California mudslides damage homes, get rid of cars

California mudslides damage homes, get rid of cars

Rescuers searched for a missing person this week in the mudslide as large yellow tractors swept through thick, dark sludge and pushed boulders off roads after torrents of dirt, boulders and trees swept over fire-ravaged slopes and swept away cars and buildings buried in a small mountain. communities in Southern California.

With thunderstorms expected and more mudslides likely through Wednesday, evacuation orders remained in place in parts of the San Bernardino Mountains while a wildfire 500 miles to the north forced residents to leave their homes.

A mosquito blaze that raged 110 miles northeast of San Francisco erupted in the afternoon just hours after those responsible announced “big steps” in the battle.

“We have all hands on deck,” said a fire spokesman, Chris Valenzuela, as Foresthill caught fire. “It burns intermittently and intensely.”

The fire was one of three major fires in the state.

East Los Angeles, crews searched street after street for people who might be trapped by the mudflows that washed away rocks, trees, and other debris with astonishing force the day before in Forest Falls, Oak Glen, and Yucaipa and left a muddy mess and untold destruction.

Eric Sherwin, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department, said other homes and buildings were damaged, including a commercial building buried so high that its roof collapsed.

“We have rocks that moved through that that weighed several tons,” Sherwin said. “It may take days to find all the lost cars because they are completely covered in mud.”

A video clip showed a slow, black river of sludge rolling past the sign of the Oak Glen Steakhouse and Saloon, followed seconds later by a surging wave of deep tree trunks bearing logs. Mud appeared in some places the next day.

Sherwin said crews were searching for a missing person.

Residents who tried to return home found it difficult to wade through this sticky mess.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Perla Halpert, whose feet were covered in mud after trying to walk home. “If you try to take two steps, you will drown in the water. You just get stuck.”

Halpert was out of town and back home in Oak Glen late Monday to find the driveway covered in a few inches of mud. Her family stayed the night with her family members and returned after the first light only to discover several feet of mud and shoveled the fence.

Her husband went to buy shoes and coats before traveling through the mud to assess the damage.

“There are a lot of rocks and a lot of mud. But hopefully the house itself will be fine,” she said.

Officials lifted some mandatory eviction and shelter-in-place orders on Tuesday evening.

Workers cleared most of Valley Falls Drive, the only road to Forest Falls, and teams were assessing the damage. Other major roads in the San Bernardino Mountains reopened.

For some homes in Forest Falls, it was too late to vacate on Monday. Residents were told to take cover all night because it was safer to go outside.

The rain was from the remnants of a tropical storm that brought strong winds and some much-needed rain to drought-stricken southern California last week, largely helping firefighters wreck the Fairview blaze that was spiraling out of control about 20 miles (32 kilometers) away. ) South mudslides.

Mudflows and flash floods have occurred in parts of the San Bernardino Mountains where there are burn scars, and areas with little soil sustaining vegetation, from wildfires in 2020.

“All that dirt turns into mud and starts sliding down the mountain,” Sherwin said.

One of the 2020 fires, the El Dorado Fire, was ignited by a smoke device that a couple used to reveal the gender of their child. A firefighter died, and the couple were charged with manslaughter.

The mudslides occurred 175 miles east of Montecito, where massive debris flows killed more than 20 people and destroyed hundreds of homes in January 2018, a month after a massive wildfire burned hillsides.

About 40 miles west, Cal State San Bernardino reopened Tuesday, a day after the campus was closed when several buildings were submerged during heavy rain.

The powerful thunderstorms came after a week in which California endured a record heat wave. Temperatures in many parts of the state have exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), pushing the state’s electrical grid to breaking point as air conditioners absorb energy. The Fairview fire in southern California and the mosquito fire east of Sacramento are out of control.

Tropical Storm helped crews battle the Fairview fire 75 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The 44-square-mile fire was 62% contained by Tuesday. Two people died while escaping the fire that destroyed at least 35 homes and other structures in Riverside County.

The mosquito fire has grown to 78 square miles, with 18% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. But those numbers are expected to change late Tuesday as the fire breaks out.

Rising winds earlier on Tuesday sent a layer of flying smoke that was smothering the flames and supplying the flames with fresh oxygen, according to Valenzuela. The Foresthill area was filled with extremely dry fuel that was igniting quickly, presenting a challenge to firefighters on the ground and in aircraft.

Scientists say climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the past three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and more frequent and destructive of wildfires. In the past five years, California has experienced the largest and most destructive fires in its history.

Weber reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press contributing writer Stephanie Dazio in Los Angeles.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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