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Mudslide warning in wake of Complex Fire

November 21, 2008 8:38:23 AM PST
The areas burned in last weekend's wildfires are now facing another serious threat. Rain is in the forecast for next week, and that could mean major mudslides. Yorba Linda residents are being warned to take precautions now.There's really is no rest for residents. Homeowners here are still sifting through the ash, now they have to worry about potential mudslides. You can see the city's been busy Friday putting out sandbags throughout the burn areas of Yorba Linda, and the reason is on the hillsides, there is absolutely no vegetation. The tops of hillsides are burned and there are worries it could send that earth down into the street and possibly into homes. Officials worry that these mudslides could cause just as much damage, if not more, than last weekend's fires.

Crews drop off sandbags at homes in Yorba Linda, the area worst hit by wildfire with 118 homes lost. Residents are still picking through ash and now have to worry about another potential disaster.

"I don't want a lot of rain, no," said Kathy Minnick, who lost her home.

Thirty-thousand acres burned in Orange County. The vegetation that once held the soil in place is gone, making it vulnerable to mudslides with any heavy rain.

"If you're adjacent to the burn slopes and any canyon outlet, you might want to be packed and ready to evacuate. It may come to that as early as next week if we have heavy rains," said Mark Stowell, Yorba Linda Public Works director.

The city is providing homeowners with sandbags. Officials are facing scrutiny after the Fire Authority confirmed the top of the community called Hidden Hills did not have water to fight the fire. A fire official on scene Saturday believes homes could have been saved.

"There was three to five house, in his opinion, that probably he could have stopped if they had water," said Orange County Fire Authority Battalion Chief Kris Concepcion.

"Very frustrating," said Kathy Minnick. "You can't change what's happened. But it just, it just seems unbelievable that we didn't have any water."

City water district officials say they are investigating to figure out what happened. Authorities are also looking into why the reverse-911 system did not warn people of the fire until several hours after it had started.

"The resources to make sure everybody knew, we fell short of doing that," said Yorba Linda Mayor Jim Winder. "We'll look at doing better in the future."

The mayor promised the warning system is fixed in case it is needed next week, if rain causes the hillsides to give way.

"Homeowners need to act now," said Stowell. "Don't wait until it's raining. This weekend, get the bags up."

Sandbags are free to residents of Yorba Linda. They're available at various locations in the city including at Yorba Linda fire stations. They're also providing plastic sheeting for Yorba Linda homeowners. That's available at the disaster relief center which has been set up at the Savi Ranch Center.

To help fill sandbags, visit this website for more information:


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