Residents warned of mudslide danger in fire zones

6:58 AM, Nov 28, 2012   |    comments
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Ponderosa fire in Manton, California.

FORWARD MILLS, CA - Homeowners living in areas burned by Northern California wildfires last summer are being warned of the risk of mud and rock slides during the impending storms.

Emergency services officials in several counties are cautioning residents that storms expected to drop 7 to 11 inches of rain in some areas could cause destructive mudslides and force evacuations.

The National Weather Service cautioned that ground in burned areas could saturate quickly, causing flooding, mudslides and trees to fall.

In the Forward Mills community where the Ponderosa Fire burned northeast of Red Bluff, the fire burned so hot that trees burned down into the ground, leaving almost nothing to hold denuded soil in place.

"Well, I'm a little worried now, but I think we'll probably be fine," said Forward Mills resident Stacey Smith.

Smith's home survived the fire, but a large section of burned hillsides lies behind her property. She's hoping a mudslide would pass to the sides of her home that sits on a slight rise, but she's still worried.

"Yeah, that would be a bummer. I don't know how you rebuild over a mudslide," Smith said.

The Shasta Daisy Winery survived the fire, as did co-owner Lorna Knedler's home, but she's worried about neighbors whose properties sit in areas susceptible to mudslides.

"This is going be a major storm and we all know that," Knedler said.

Salvage loggers working the area have left sawdust to help hold the earth in place and put in berms to safely channel the water.

"(They've) water-barred it, which means they've put a berm of earth on the skid-trails," said Carroll Knedler, who lost 800 acres of timber in the Ponderosa Fire.

The couple hopes the earth will stay in place, but know there could be problems if the rains continue long enough.

Lorna Knedler worried the ground could begin to shift if the heavy rains continue long enough.

"This ground is very loose and ashy and so we hope for the best," she said.


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