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Contractors State License Board makes Early Impact in Fire Zones

Quick and visible presence spreads the word to would-be violators

Representatives from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) have been among the first responders entering the various fire/disaster zones in California when it was deemed safe. Investigators and other staff members have been providing information to residents, canvassing burned neighborhoods to give warnings and offer helpful information about hiring contractors.

The fire season started early this year. CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Unit (SWIFT) teamed up with investigators from the California Department of Insurance (DOI) in the Santa Clara/Santa Cruz mountains for one of the first fires in May to post warning signs about the dangers of unlicensed activity in disaster zones.

Over one million acres have burned in the state so far this year. Butte County has seen some of the heaviest activity. The California Department of Forestry estimates that nearly 60,000 acres have burned, with a price tag of $76 million to date to fight the fires resulting from the Butte Lightning Complex fires that raged for weeks in Butte County. The Camp Fire alone, which raged through the Concow area July 7-8, destroyed 106 homes, 11 outbuildings and caused the death of one resident.

The SWIFT staff conducted a total of four sweep operations in the fire ravaged areas of Butte County during the months of June and July. Here are the results from those visits.

  • 96 Site visits in Paradise, Oroville, Palermo, Kelly Ridge & Concow
  • 87 Warning signs posted through out Butte County burn zones
  • 9 Warning Letters issued:
  • 6 Nonlicensee Citations Issued:
  • 1 Notice to Appear issued
  • 1 Nonlicensee Criminal Referrals (NTA suspect)
  • 5 Licensee Criminal Referrals (No workers comp)

SWIFT personnel also responded quickly to the more recent fires in Santa Barbara and Mariposa County in late July. Staff visited 49 sites at the Gap Fire in Santa Barbara County which resulted in 4 warning letters, 2 nonlicensee citations and 1 licensee citation. CSLB Investigators were joined by representatives from the Mariposa County District Attorney's office in visiting 6 job sites in the Telegraph Fire area to check for illegal activity in mid-August. Most of the sites were in compliance. One licensee had workers compensation issues that are currently under investigation. Staff members also posted disaster warning signs through out the burn zone. The fire just west of Yosemite burned about 34,000 acres and destroyed 28 homes.

CSLB will be busy with continuing sweep and sting operations in fire zones over the coming months. Staff will also continue to hand out information at disaster centers and to residents in disaster areas as warranted. CSLB Public Affairs staff has been working with the news media to make sure area residents and unlicensed contractors are aware of the felony penalties involved for contracting illegally in a declared disaster zone.

To learn more about CSLB's activities and resources in fire and disaster zones visit www.cslb.ca.gov or call (800) 321-CSLB (2752) to have information mailed to you.

 

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