Clear weather gives crews time to clear debris basins in Station Fire burn area

Drivers of bulldozers, loaders and trucks go to work today with at least a week of clear weather to clean out debris basins in mountainside communities below the massive Station Fire burn area.

"At this time, at least the next seven days look dry," National Weather Service Meteorologist Jamie Meier said this morning. "We may even get our first 80-degree days of the year next week."

Grinding gears and growling diesel engines may be heard by residents in parts of Tujunga, Glendale, La Crescenta and La Canada Flintridge until all the basins are 100 percent cleaned-out.

But the chorus of heavy machinery means that residents will have an increased level of protection the next time heavy rains return.

The most current debris basin cleanout schedule, updated Wednesday, lists five structures totally cleared – including Zachau, Blanchard, Eagle and Pinelawn basins.

Seven structures are listed as 60 percent to 90 percent cleared, and 13 others are scheduled to be 100 percent cleaned out by March 30, according to the county Department of Public Works.

The deadline for total cleanout of 29 listed basins and other structures is April 15.

Over the next three to five years, debris removal due to seasonal storms in the area damaged by the 250-square-mile Station Fire could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, Public Works Deputy Director Mark Pestrella told the county's Board of Supervisors in February.

Pestrella's estimate is far more than the estimated $90 million local, state and federal agencies spent last year fighting the Station Fire, the largest in county history.

But county officials learned this week they may be able to recoup some of their costs from the federal government.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Monday that disaster funding is available to state and local governments for emergency work and repair or replacement of facilities damaged by storms from Jan. 17 to Feb. 6.

According to FEMA, the federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for:

  • projects involving the removal of debris from public areas and emergency measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health.
  • hazard mitigation projects to prevent long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters.
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