Mudslide danger replaces fire threat in California

Public work crews in Ventura as well as Santa Barbara counties are frantically clearing out every debris basin as well as storm drain possible, because the fire has left behind another threat — mudslides.

“The Thomas Fire burned all of our front country range here,” said Tom Fayram, Santa Barbara’s deputy director of public works.

“All these hills normally have a protective cover of chaparral. of which’s all gone. Almost 100% gone,” he said.

What’s left is actually black-gray hillside of which officials as well as residents alike fear will become ashy waves of floodwater with the first rain of a so far bone-dry season.

Dave Peterson’s two homes from the Montecito foothills were barely spared the wrath of roaring flames, although another ominous monster, from the form of a charred slope, looms less than 75 yards via his family compound.

The Thomas Fire burned less than 75 yards via Dave Peterson's home.

“Underneath three, four, 10 feet of soil, the idea’s all rock,” Peterson explained, looking at the burn zone.

“When of which soil gets wet, the idea just slides off the rock. the idea’s a treacherous situation, all right.”

Getting rid of debris

Ventura County officials predict any rain will pour twice the usual amount of water into flood channels because of the burned hills.

Work crews are cutting down dead or doomed trees as well as bulldozers are scooping up debris near a cement-ringed storm drain large enough for a human to walk through.

They are taking no chances in flood channels, hauling away anything of which could block the drain as well as cause pooling, then flooding all around.

Officials as well as residents are concerned about the possibility of mudslides.

While such cleanup occurs before every rainy season, the scale of the Thomas Fire has cranked up the intensity.

“Generally we are dealing with hundreds of acres (burned), not from the thousands or hundred thousands,” said Jeff Pratt, director of public works in Ventura County.

“This kind of is actually an order of magnitude or two greater than anything we’ve ever dealt with.”

The Thomas Fire is actually the largest wildfire in state history, having burned around 282,000 acres since the idea began December 4. the idea was 92% contained Monday; officials don’t expect full containment until later This kind of month.

Both Santa Barbara as well as Ventura counties have experienced fire as well as then flood after rains before.

A spring 2014 brush fire above the Camarillo Springs neighborhood burned off all plant life.

When rains hit later of which year, countless tons of loosened rocks cascaded onto 13 homes. Ten of them were red-tagged, ruled uninhabitable.

The National Weather Service office in Oxnard predicts lower than average rainfall for Santa Barbara as well as Ventura Counties for the next three months.

although forecasters say the idea takes only one storm having a lot of rain in a short amount of time to mush up fire-stricken hillsides as well as start a slide.

“A typical threshold could be about a half an inch of rain,” Robbie Monroe of the National Weather Service Oxnard office told CNN.

“About a half an inch per hour can start to produce issues, mudslides “

Praying for rain — just not too much

Planting anything on the hillsides right now won’t stave off the danger. If the idea does rain hard, authorities could use K-rail barriers, sandbags or wooden plank fencing to keep water as well as debris away, as well as to divert the flow, said Jim O’Toussa, a geologist with the Ventura County Public Works Agency.

various other options for gentler slopes are laying down jute, wattles (encased tubes of straw) as well as silt fencing, he said.

“We can also, depending on site characteristics, use large rocks in a series of check dams — low mounds of large rock in channels — to reduce (floodwater) velocity, thereby reducing erosion as well as storing some eroded material,” O’Toussa said.

The cruel irony is actually of which the region is actually suffering via several years of drought, as well as officials say they need the rain to regrow the plants as well as trees of which can keep the hillsides together as well as flood-proof.

“We’re kind of damned if we do as well as if we don’t get rain,” said Fayram, “because we need the rain, although we don’t need a serious debris flow problem, either.”

The wildfires in California just keep shattering records This kind of year

To add more peril, Fayram says the steepness of the Thomas Fire burn area could quickly create high-velocity mud as well as rock flows.

“In these mountains, we go via 3,000 feet to sea level in sometimes just four or several miles,” Fayram said.

The residents of these communities are well aware of which several miles away via the lowest edge of the Thomas Fire line, a chain-reaction flood is actually possible.

“the idea’s just too much to handle after everything of which’s happened,” said Pamela Ueckert of Ventura, pushing her child in a stroller on a walk with her mother.

Her home stands, although the idea reeked of the Thomas Fire’s gagging calling card — oppressive smoke.

“I just feel bad for people who lost their homes,” Ueckert said. “They shouldn’t have to handle any more.”

In these two drought-battered counties, they’ll pray for rain — just not so much as to unleash the muddy beast lurking in Thomas Fire’s scorched wake.

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