skip to Main Content

Alisal Fire Assistance Project

Alisal Fire Assistance Project

Alisal Fire Assistance Project — Helping Survivors of Recent Wildfire

On October 11 2021, the Alisal Fire burned 16,970 acres and 13 structures in Gaviota, California. In this new era of megafires, the Alisal fire was deemed too small to receive a state or federal disaster declaration. Without a declaration, the usual post-disaster public funding, grants, loans, and other resources are not available to impacted property owners.

To make matters worse, many of these survivors lost their insurance coverage after the 2017-18 Thomas Fire, then lost their homes and possessions to the Alisal Fire. These survivors are now houseless and in dire financial circumstances. They need help!

The ash and debris left in the wake of a structure fire are full of toxic materials such as 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 recent mega-fires such as the Woolsey and Camp fires, 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 are helping!

To address this urgent need, the Bucket Brigade and 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.

We have been making great progress.
In December, 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.

In 2022, we combined all the individual debris cleanup projects into one community relief project and began removing the toxic debris from burned structures, cars and boats to help fire survivors recover and to protect the environment.

We have cleared 10 burn sites in 2022!  One more to go.

We are working on the final site now! Check our volunteer hub for opportunities to help in the recovery!

Want to support the project, but can’t volunteer?


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.

For questions please email:

Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade:
Abe Powell – or call 805-568-9700

Santa Barbara Channelkeeper:
Ben Pitterle – or call 805-636-6189

Fire Safe Council Santa Barbara County:
Paul Van Leer – or call 805-896-7623

The Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Tax Id # 831156413
CA State Charity Number: CT0260744
CA State Corporation ID C4112413



Back To Top