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Crews work to clear mud slide mess

November 13, 2009 12:45:22 AM PST
Crews worked to clean a mudslide mess in La Canada Flintridge caused by rain.The affected homes are located in the Station Fire burn area along Ocean View Boulevard, Normanton Drive, Earnslow Drive and Rock Castle Road.

The fast-moving downpour happened at about 11 p.m. Thursday, triggering the mudslide. The rain lasted only 15 to 20 minutes, but it was enough to send mud cascading over the K-rails.

"The mud came down fast, it came right where we knew it was going to come. It filled up debris basins almost immediately, and then the mud flowed out over into the streets and into the backyards," said Battalion Chief Steve Martin from the L.A. County Fire Department.

On Friday morning, public works crews chipped away at La Canada resident Nancy McDannold's driveway, which was caked with more than a foot of mud. She said she slept through the downpour that caused the mudslide.

Martin said about six homes were damaged, as well as a few cars.

"When I was first drove up here, I was running into boulders the size of soccer balls," Martin said.

L.A. County Fire crews said a handful of residents heard the hillsides begin to give way and left their homes on their own. They have since returned, and nobody was injured. There are no evacuation orders in place currently.

Rock Castle Road has been closed while crews work to clean the mess.

Martin said when the rain comes, officials will be issuing evacuation orders.

"This isn't like a fire, where some of us can stay and some can go," Martin said. "This is not something that we can come up here and work in, and it's not something you can live through."

The Station Fire blackened more than 250 square miles in L.A. County. The hills were saturated during October rain, and the soaking Thursday night was too much for many hills to handle.

Mud covered patio furniture in Gary Stibal's backyard, leaving only a tabletop visible.

"The rain came down in buckets, buckets, and it started with just a little bit, and then became downpours," described Stibal.

Stibal had hired civil engineer Sassan Salehipour to help them prepare for a worst-case scenario.

The storm was a test for Stibal's $40,000 investment in mudslide protection including storm shutters and fences. He believes that they've saved his house, but he added that he won't hesitate to leave again when the next big storm hits.

"It would just be silly to stay around because there's just too much loose ash up on these hills," said Stibal.

On Angeles Crest Highway above La Canada Flintridge, about four feet of mud came down onto the highway. That portion of Highway 2 was closed because the Station Fire destroyed the guardrails. The California Highway Patrol has a road closure in effect at Highway 2 and Bay Tree Road.

Officials are warning residents that from December until March, there will be a lot more storms coming through, and they are warning residents to be vigilant.


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