The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to mobilize departments to support communities devastated by the Lake and Bobcat fires.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger recommended taking steps ranging from safely removing fire debris to helping residents find housing, file out claim forms and get free copies of lost property records.
“While our end goal is for the long-term health, prosperity and recovery of our residents, we know that there are immediate needs that must be addressed,” Barger said. “This is an important effort to deploy resources to help suffering communities in the near term.”
The Recovery Section of the county’s Emergency Operations Center will take the lead in coordinating efforts across multiple departments. The board directed the Department of Public Health to evaluate the ability to expedite the safe removal of fire debris and mitigate negative health effects of exposure to hazardous waste. DPH was also asked to assess the need for mental health and social service resources. The Los Angeles County Development Authority was directed to provide housing and additional services for those impacted by the fires.
Fees for copies of property records will be suspended and homeowners will be informed about filing claims to defer tax payments, while the director of Regional Planning considers way to expedite rebuilding.
The board also asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency for the Lake Fire, which broke out Aug. 12 and burned 31,089 acres and destroyed or damaged more than 15 homes and 21 buildings before being 100% contained.
The Bobcat Fire erupted in the Angeles National Forest just a few weeks later, on Sept. 6, and was even more destructive, burning 115,796 acres, destroying 171 structures, including 87 residences and the Nature Center at the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area, and nearly burning down the Mt. Wilson Observatory. It damaged another 47 other structures, including 28 residences. It is 92% contained and projected to be fully contained by Oct. 30.
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