On November 8, 2018 the deadliest and most destructive fire in California’s history blazed through the town of Paradise, leaving little left in its wake of destruction. The fire burned down 18,804 structures and displaced tens of thousands of residents in the area, who have since struggled to find housing.
Now, just six months after the fire, the residents of the town are finally making progress in rebuilding efforts. That is, until an endangered frog stopped them in their tracks.
Those tasked with debris removal have halted operations on over 800 properties in the area due to concerns over an endangered frog that lives in the nearby waterways. The delay in work has caused frustrations among the residents, some of which remain homeless, and politicians who demand that human residents take precedent over environmental inspections.
“Frogs, birds and waterways are causing work to stop in some areas,â€ said Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Tehama, and Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, in a joint statement. “Survivors are anxious to rebuild or move on. Our neighbors have gone through hell in this disaster, and must be the priority.â€
State and Wildlife officials and federal officials are currently assessing the environmental threat this work may cause to wildlife near the waterway and there is no timetable for the conclusion. Although the work on the 800 houses is delayed, officials say it’s not delaying the overall cleanup efforts.
Currently, 141 crews are cleaning up around 100 sites per day. With the 18,000+ properties in the area, they will have more than enough time to finish the assessment before they make their way to the environmentally sensitive area.
Still, the locals who are still displaced by the fires aren’t buying it.
â€œI have followed the process to a T. Now I am being held up,â€ Alicia Rock, whose house was burned in the fire, told the AP. â€œCome on guys, youâ€™ve had six months. You knew this was coming.â€