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Spring storm raises concerns for burn areas

April 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Burn area residents are on alert as a substantial spring storm hangs on the horizon that could bring up to three inches of rain to the foothills and up to a foot of snow to the mountains.All the barricades remain in place in La Canada Flintridge as residents and officials are not taking any chances and for good reason.

"It's always that anxiety when you hear there's big weather coming in, but then there's that offside chance it's nothing, and there's that small percent that it could, so the anxiety is always there," said La Canada Flintridge resident Olivia Brown.

Heavy clouds and fierce winds are already hitting the Angeles National Forest area, with heavy snow above 5,000 feet. A winter storm warning is currently in effect until Monday 11 a.m. for the eastern Sierra Slopes at elevations above 6,000 feet. About 5 to 10 inches of snow is expected between 6,000.

Down near the Valley areas, there are dark clouds hanging ominously in the air, and more are moving in. This brings much concern to the burn areas. The last major storm that moved through the area proved that mud and debris can fall down the barren hillsides and destroy everything in its path, including homes. Residents were hoping that the wet weather was finished, but this latest storm has them on edge once again.

"I guess we've got a pretty powerful storm coming in, so yeah, here we go again," said La Canada Flintridge resident Steve Brown. "We feel okay here though. We've seen it come down, and we know what we can hold. Hopefully, it doesn't get crazy, but it should be okay."

Like Brown, other residents are also hoping that the rain only amounts to a drizzle. However, many residents added extra precautions after the last damaging storm, just in case. Everyone hopes to divert any runoff from getting into their homes.

"I think we're ready for it this time," said Newt Russell, a La Canada Flintridge resident. "We got it fixed so that if it does come down, it will come out of the driveway rather than back in the house, which it did the first two times."

The K-rails that line the streets in the burn areas are expected to remain in position for as long as a year or so. That's because the risk of mudflow and debris coming down from those hillsides remains high for a couple of years after the burn. There is some green peeking through the charred hills, but it's not enough to hold the mud from spilling down.

L.A. County Department of Public Works will be closing all county roads within the burn areas beginning at midnight. Closed roads include Angeles Forest Highway, Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road.

So far, no evacuation orders have been issued, but that is something that authorities are keeping a very close eye on throughout the night.


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