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BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Public health officials are strongly suggesting residents allow professionals to clean up debris after the Marshall Fire tore through Boulder County destroying nearly 1,000 structures.

“We’ve seen a lot of contaminants in ash from structure fires,” David Snapp said, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment solid waste and materials management program manager.

Snapp said testing from wildfire burn areas where homes were destroyed shows toxic amounts of heavy metals and asbestos in smoke and ash.

“We prefer people that are professionals at debris cleanup be the ones to enter those sites,” Snapp stressed.

Boulder County, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other state and local agencies are working together to establish a debris removal program for all those affected by the fire.

Officials said anyone choosing to remove debris on their own would not qualify for the program, and they need to abide by state and local permitting requirements. Also, property owners handling their own removal should confirm any haulers and/or contractors removing ash and fire-related debris are properly licensed.

Boulder County said anyone wishing to sign up for the program can do so at the Disaster Assistance Center located at 1755 S. Public Rd. The county said details will be provided once a program is solidified.

A virtual meeting is scheduled Thursday night for those affected by the fire to serve as a roundtable for information sharing and Q & A sessions.