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Nearly all evacuations lifted in burn areas

February 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
At least 43 homes have been damaged and more than 800 homes were evacuated Saturday as the latest storm ravaged the burn areas in L.A. County. Of the 43 damaged homes, 12 suffered major damage and 31 suffered light to moderate damage. Exact addresses or streets names were not available.

About 540 residences were evacuated in the foothill areas of La Crescenta, Acton, Altadena and La Canada Flintridge.

Incident Commanders have lifted the mandatory evacuations for all of La Crescenta and Acton.

Mandatory evacuation orders have also been lifted for La Canada Flintridge with the exception of the Paradise Valley Community.

Paradise Valley remains the only active mandatory evacuation. Streets include: Ocean View Blvd from 5524 and north, Earnslow Drive, Normanton Drive, Bristow Drive, Derwood Drive, Manistee Drive, and Highrim Road.

Several people had to be rescued from their homes and vehicles, but so far, no injuries have been reported.

The homes at the top of Ocean View Boulevard against the hillside suffered the most severe damage. Concrete K-rails were tossed around by the power of the mud and were unable to protect homes. One home had collapsed, and several homes had massive amounts of mud in the yards.

During a news conference Saturday, L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich blamed the U.S. Forest Service for alleged mistakes made during the first days of the Station fire, saying that if the Forest Service had not let the wildfire spread, the debris flows might have been avoided.

A homeowner, who didn't want to give his name, said his 20-year-old son was sleeping in a room whose exterior walls were hit with the muck.

"It was about 5 a.m. and it was really loud, so I decided to get up," said Jennifer Dickens, who lives across the street. "I saw this wave coming. It was like a waterfall hitting the house."

At least 25 vehicles were damaged after being pushed into each other and moved downhill. One SUV rested on top of a truck, while other vehicles were slammed into homes.

"Some of the garage doors on some properties ? blew open, so some of the garages got partially flooded," said a La Canada Flintridge resident.

The U.S. Geological Survey said 4 and three-quarter inches of rain have fallen in the last 20 hours, and more rain is expected.

Firefighters used the mud that flowed onto La Canada Flintridge streets to fill more sandbags, hoping they will protect homes if any more mud flows down.

About 300 homes were under mandatory evacuation orders in Sierra Madre, all of those evacuations have been lifted. There has been no major damage to homes in the city at this time, although a few homes suffered minor mud damage.

Despite the mandatory evacuation orders from Saturday, some residents stayed put.

"I need my medication, and I got two cats here and I need a settled environment," said Carol Lem of Sierra Madre.

The Sierra Madre City Council held a meeting at 4:30 p.m. to declare a local state of emergency.

Residents in La Crescenta are very concerned because the Cooks Canyon debris basin was almost completely full on Saturday morning.

Residents are being asked to stay in their homes and away from mud flow areas unless they need emergency assistance, said Los Angeles County Public Works spokesperson Gary Boze. A number of spectators who have shown up to work area were making clean-up efforts difficult for crews on the scene, Boze said.