Friday, August 24, 2007

Angora Fire -- Aug. 27 Schwarzenegger statement

Friday, August 24, 2007

Governor Schwarzenegger today commended the extraordinary job made by local and state officials and contract debris removal employees for their unprecedented debris clean-up efforts following the Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe . The crews in charge of the effort will have completed the debris clean up within approximately 40 days-- one week ahead of the scheduled September 1 deadline.

"The devastation I witnessed on June 27 was overwhelming. Without any doubt, the Angora fire was one of the worst fires in Lake Tahoe 's history," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "I commend the hard work and cooperation taken by all levels of government to help these victims rebuild as soon as possible and ensuring the Lake Tahoe Basin remains as safe as it is beautiful.

"The men and women of the debris removal project have shown great commitment to the people of Lake Tahoe and have demonstrated that through cooperation and determination, anything is possible."

Governor Schwarzenegger has been engaged in the response efforts since the Angora Fire began by visiting the fire zone on three separate occasions, issuing two executive orders, requesting the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provide their Disaster Loan Program assistance to the Angora fire victims, and signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons to create the California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission.

Since the remediation activities began on July 16, 2007, the California Integrated Waste Management Board, part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, amended an existing contract with a solid waste remediation contractor to remove the structural debris and ash created by the Angora fire.

Of the 257 properties that were destroyed, all the property owners-- a remarkable 100 percent participation-- have taken advantage of the debris removal program. Nearly 60,000 tons of debris has been removed - 629 tons of metal and nearly 6,000 tons of concrete have been delivered for recycling.

"The State of California has risen to the occasion to do what has never been done before. By taking decisive and quick action on multiple fronts, this coordinated response with public and private partners helped get people back on track and rebuild this community. The effort to alleviate the devastation of the fire and environmental impacts on the Tahoe Basin has been a remarkable success," continued the Governor.

On July 25, 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger and Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create the California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission, a panel of 17 voting members that represent each State's stake in the responsible management of lands and fire fuels within the Tahoe Basin, including representatives from affected state agencies, fire agencies and the public. They also requested the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to designate one person from the United States Forest Service to serve on the commission.

The commission is performing a comprehensive review of the laws, policies and practices that affect the vulnerability of the Tahoe Basin to wildfires. It is also studying various user-friendly approaches to reducing the threat of wildfires while protecting the environment. It will submit a report and recommendations to the two governors by March 21, 2008.

On July 4, 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger sent a letter to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) requesting that El Dorado County be declared a disaster area in order to provide SBA Disaster Loan Program assistance to Angora Fire victims. The request was granted and will qualify victims of the Angora Fire for low income loans of up to $200,000 for homeowners to repair or replace their damaged or destroyed primary residence. Also, homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. Businesses of any size and private non-profit organizations may borrow up to $1.5 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. The loans are available for homeowners, renters and business owners whose property was damaged or destroyed in the fire.

Governor Schwarzenegger announced the establishment of a Local Assistance Center on June 26, 2007 to help provide state and local services to assist victims displaced by the wildfire, suffering property loss and economic and other damages. The next day, Governor Schwarzenegger toured the fire-damaged areas with Lt. Governor John Garamendi, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons. They met with firefighters and local officials and were joined by Resources Agency Secretary Mike Chrisman, Office of Emergency Services Director Henry Renteria and CalFIRE Deputy Director for Fire Protection Ken McLean.

Governor Schwarzenegger has issued two executive orders to help victims of the wildfire recover. On June 27, 2007, he issued an executive order to assist individuals that suffered losses by waiving fees for replacing state documents lost in the fire including vehicle registrations, driver's licenses and birth certificates. He also issued Executive Order S-09-07 on July 2, 2007 to help victims clean up and rebuild as quickly as possible by streamlining, and in some cases suspending, certain state rules regarding the removal and disposal of both hazardous and non-hazardous debris as well as dead and dying trees.

As a result of this disaster, El Dorado County proclaimed a local emergency on June 24, 2007 and subsequently requested state and federal assistance. In response to El Dorado County 's request, a proclamation for a State of Emergency was issued on June 25, 2007.

The Angora Fire began on June 24, 2007 in the North Upper Truckee area in South Lake Tahoe , California and was fully contained on July 2, 2007.

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