By Adrienne Moore

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CALAVERAS COUNTY (CBS13) – More than a year after the Butte Fire devastated Calaveras County, work is underway to remove thousands of dead trees left behind.

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The Butte Fire burned more than 70,000 acres back in September 2015. County officials say the trees pose a danger to the public and county roads. On Wednesday, we followed crews as they took their first step in removing 8,400 dead trees.

They’ve been tagged and tallied, and now it’s takedown time for some of the tallest casualties of the Butte Fire.

“This is an important step in the recovery from the Butte Fire, which, of course, devastated our county,” said Jack Garamendi, who’s on the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors.

After the flames of 2015, arborists and county leaders evaluated the health of thousands of trees and focused the start of their removal efforts along Mountain Ranch and Railroad Flat roads where, they say, the danger is high.

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“It’s really a life and safety issue. These trees are dead; they need to be removed or they’re going to fall or injure people,” said Garamendi.

With funding for the project coming from FEMA and Cal OES, all of the trees are moved off-site and hauled up the road to Wallace, where experts will determine if some pieces will be saved and harvested or chipped.

It’s labor-intensive, delicate, and necessary work. Engineers urge residents to be patient.

“There will be traffic delays as we work along the road. Please work to keep our crews safe,” said engineer Earl Seaberg.

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County officials tell us all of the work should be completed by mid-spring.

Adrienne Moore