Thomas Fire burn areas in Ventura raise concerns about debris flows amid rainy season

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The Thomas Fire left Ventura County hillsides black and barren in the middle of the winter rainy season, and with rain expected next week, it's a race against time to prepare the county's catch basins. (KABC)

The Thomas Fire left Ventura County hillsides black and barren in the middle of the winter rainy season, and with rain expected next week, it's a race against time to clear catch basins.

"We are going to have about twice as much volume in run-off as we would have had normally, so we have to prepare for that volume," said geologist Jim O'Tousa, with the Ventura County Public Works Department.

Bulldozers spent Thursday moving boulders to clear and stabilize barrancas. Since there's nothing holding the burned vegetation into the hillside, the fear is that they could block the storm drains. Hundreds of homes and businesses lie below.

The county is encouraging Ventura residents to buy flood insurance and said it's not a question of if, but when. They are also distributing free sandbags and holding workshops to prepare residents for the mud.

"Some of these hillsides, there's nothing we can do. The watersheds are too large to handle so what we are trying to do in areas of population, where there's a human safety risk, we're asking the homeowners to be very vigilant," O'Tousa said.

The ABC7 drone flew over the Ventura foothills on Colina Vista and captured a view of the hillsides behind the now empty lots. Debris removal companies have been hard at work in this neighborhood clearing the burned-out lots.

There's concern that rain water could push the remaining debris of what's left of the homes into storm drains or other homes that are still standing.
Related Topics:
weatherrainmudslidehouse firebrush firewildfireThomas FiresafetyVenturaVentura County
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