Scott Morrow

Scott Morrow

San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow declared a health emergency on Wednesday due to the public health threat of hazardous waste from wildfires.

The CZU Lightning Complex is a group of fires that burned 86,509 acres in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. It has destroyed more than 1,400 structures, including 59 in San Mateo County.

Debris and ash from the fires could contain hazardous substances like building materials or chemicals from household items.

The declaration allows county staff and contractors to enter private property to mitigate hazardous waste. It may also free up additional funding.

"The emergency declaration will help ensure the safety of our residents as they return home, as well as our environment, by facilitating the removal of toxic metals and hazardous materials from the burned areas," county Environmental Health Services Director Heather Forshey said in a news release.

The Board of Supervisors also declared a local emergency due to fires on Aug. 19, and will ratify and extend the emergency regulation at its meeting next Tuesday.

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