‘We just can’t catch a break’: Flooding hits areas burned by California wildfires
PARADISE, Calif. — Heavy rain slid through scorched areas burnt by wildfires in California on Thursday, clogging streets with debris and flooding yards and homes in areas still coming to grips with the disastrous blazes.
Rains were letting up early Friday, and flash flood warnings have lapsed. But another half-inch of rain could fall Friday night into Saturday in Northern California’s Butte County, which was scorched this month by the Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history.
“We just can’t catch a break with it right now in the county,” Cal Fire battalion chief Patrick Purvis told CNN affiliate KOVR on Thursday. “I mean, we just go from fire season straight into floods, landslides.”
The Camp Fire killed at least 88 people, destroyed much of the town of Paradise and scarred tens of thousands of acres of land in Butte County. Thursday’s rain fell on the scarred area and flowed into other areas, causing flooding in the town of Durham and clogging some area roads with debris.
Firefighters had to rescue people from flooded areas in the Durham area Thursday, the Butte County Fire Department said.
In Durham on Thursday night, floodwater was approaching the home of Marie Rappa, who was hosting a family of Camp Fire evacuees. Authorities urged homes in Rappa’s area to evacuate because of the flooding, but she and her guests stayed put, CNN affiliate KCRA reported.
“If we evacuate, it’ll be a while before we can get back in,” Rappa told KCRA. “If we stick around, we can either work through the night or get up early in the morning and get some stuff down and prepare for the next onslaught.”
One to 2 inches of rain fell in just an hour Thursday afternoon, mostly between Chico and Paradise, the National Weather Service said.
The rain was “causing mudslides and debris flows” and clogging drains on California State Route 70 near Pulga, the California Department of Transportation said. Part of the highway was closed Thursday, as workers tried to remove trees and other debris.
Meanwhile in Southern California, some people were ordered to evacuate Thursday from areas affected by the Holy Fire, which burned more than 22,000 acres earlier this year.
Rain pushed sludge and into streets and yards in Lake Elsinore, pictures released by Cal Fire showed.
Firefighters and a public works crew spent part of the day removing about 2 feet of mud from a home’s garage there, Cal Fire said on Twitter.
Cal Fire released time-lapse footage showing floodwater rushing through burn scars in Leach Canyon, Coldwater Canyon and McVicker Canyon Thursday morning.
Thursday’s rains also sent rocks and debris spilling onto some roads in Malibu, which was hit by this month’s Woolsey Fire, CNN affiliates KCAL/KCBS and KTLA reported. Workers shoveled into the night to clear some of the sludge.
Friday is expected to be much drier in the area. Forecasters predicted only a 20% chance of rain in Riverside County on Friday, and a slight chance of showers Saturday afternoon.