In the fall of 2020, several communities south of San Francisco were devastated by the CZU and SCU Lightning Complex Fires. Once first responders extinguished the flames on both fires, California’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) awarded Anvil Builders a $244 million contract for the Bay Branch Fire Debris & Hazard Tree Removal. Employing a disaster response team of 100 fire debris and 25 hazardous tree removal personnel, Anvil got to work clearing debris and trees from more than 1,000 fire-damage properties in December 2020.
Cleaning up after wildfires presents a unique set of challenges that must be dealt with as expeditiously as possible. Structures burned by fire leave debris full of toxic substances. The longer this debris is exposed to the elements, the greater the chance it will migrate into the environment and contaminate nearby communities. This urgent need to get started meant the Bay Branch project would have to begin in the middle of the rainy season, which brought with it the risk of mudslides and washed-out roads. The team started building temporary crossings over burned-out bridges, improving roads to reach remote mountain properties, and felling burned that posed hazards to critical infrastructure and the commuting public. Logistics and coordination throughout were pushed to the limit as jobs of this nature don’t have the luxury of being focused on a single well-defined jobsite and each property presented its own unique set of conditions. Burned-out bridges, improving roads to reach remote mountain properties, and felling burned trees that posed hazards to critical infrastructure and the commuting public. Logistics and coordination throughout were pushed to the limit as jobs of this nature don’t have the luxury of being focused on a single well-defined jobsite. Hundreds of properties scattered across five counties had to be cleared of fire debris and hazard trees with each one presenting a unique set of conditions.
The project was originally scheduled for a completion date of May 2021, but CalOES issued Anvil a $70 million change order, expanding operations to include several State parks and regional summer camps, including Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The Bay Branch project was successfully completed in October 2021. Over the course of ten months, crews safely dropped more than 25,000 hazard trees—many of them hundred-foot-tall redwoods and Douglas firs—and trucked nearly 500,000 tons of debris to end-use facilities, oftentimes having to traverse narrow winding backroads. The project logged more than 200,000 man-hours with zero recordable injuries.