On October 11th 2021, the Alisal Fire broke out and burned 16,970 acres and 13 structures in Gaviota California. In this new era of megafires, the Alisal fire was deemed to be too small to receive a State or Federal disaster declaration. Without a disaster declaration, the usual post-disaster public funding, grants, loans and resources are not available to the survivors of the Alisal Fire.
To make matters worse, many of the survivors lost their insurance coverage after the Thomas Fire, then lost their homes and all of their possessions to the Alisal Fire. These survivors are now houseless, in dire financial circumstances and they need our help.
The ash and debris left in the wake of a structure fire are full of toxic materials like asbestos, heavy metals and dioxin that represent a health hazard to the property owners, their neighbors and the surrounding community. Because the structures lost in the Alisal Fire were sited next to Refugio Creek, or in the Refugio Creek watershed, it is important to remove this debris as quickly as possible, before wind and winter storms spread the asbestos, ash and toxins into the creek, the local water supply and the ocean.
After mega fires like the Woolsey and Camp fires, the local governments were empowered by federal disaster declarations to initiate “Consolidated Debris Removal” programs, which assured that the debris from burned structures was removed to protect the community and the watersheds from contamination. This kind of program is not available to Alisal Fire survivors because the fire did not receive a disaster declaration to legally enable the local government to do this work.
Thus, these uninsured survivors have been left on their own in the ashes and debris of their burned homes.
We can help!
We can help our neighbors recover today by working together. This community stood together to help Thomas Fire and Debris Flow survivors recover and we can stand together now to help survivors of the Alisal Fire.
To address this urgent need, a group of local community organizations joined forces to create the Alisal Fire Assistance Project (AFAP).
The goal of AFAP is to:
· Help fire survivors recover from the loss of their homes.
· Protect the Gaviota Community from air, water and ground pollution from burned homes, cars and boats.
· Protect the Refugio Creek watershed ecosystem from asbestos, toxic ash and contaminants.
· Protect the ocean from toxic runoff from the fire.
Work on the project has already begun:
Heal the Ocean and the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper worked together to install erosion control measures to contain the toxic debris before the recent storms. The Bucket Brigade and our partners conducted post-fire asbestos testing, a hazardous materials assessment and solicited bids for the safe removal of toxic debris and ash to create a budget and a plan to clean up the mess.
By combining all the individual debris cleanup projects into one community aid project, the Alisal Fire Assistance Project will remove the toxic debris from burned structures, cars and boats and will save money, increase the speed of the cleanup, protect the environment and provide the most assistance possible with the charitable funds raised to perform this service.
Here’s how this assistance project works:
1. The Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade and our Alisal Fire Relief Partners have launched the Alisal Fire Assistance Fund: a public fundraiser to raise the money needed to complete this cleanup work.
2. Once the funds are raised, the debris removal will commence.
3. Debris removal would be performed by professional contractors to assure that hazardous materials like asbestos, heavy metals and toxic ash are handled and disposed of properly.
4. There would be no charge for debris removal to the participating homeowners.
How to donate to the Alisal Fire Assistance Fund:
Check by Mail:
Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade – Alisal Fire Assistance Fund
P.O. BOX 50640
Santa Barbara, CA
All funds will go to the Alisal Fire Assistance Project and are tax deductible.
The average cost per cost per burned structure, as a part of this unified cleanup project, is $14,675 and the total project cost is $146,748.