California mudslide today near Oak Glen, Yucaipa damages homes, carries away cars, prompts evacuations,

LOS ANGELES — Clean-up efforts and damage assessments were underway east of Los Angeles on Tuesday after heavy rains triggered mudslides in a mountainous area scorched by wildfire two years ago, throwing boulders across roads, carrying away cars and prompting evacuations and site-safety orders .

Firefighters went street by street to ensure no residents were trapped after mud flows began inundating streets near the Forest Falls community Monday night. San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman Eric Sherwin said crews had found no one to rescue and no one had been reported missing.

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Several homes and other buildings suffered varying degrees of damage, Sherwin said, including a commercial building where the mud was so high that the roof collapsed. Rocks, dead trees and other debris tumbled down the slopes with amazing force in Forest Falls, Oak Glen and Yucaipa, he said.

“We have boulders that weigh several tons,” Sherwin said. “It can take days to find all the missing cars because they are completely covered in mud.”

Oak Glen’s social media video showed a stream of mud hurtling down a slope, across a road and into a restaurant parking lot.

Danny Imler made slow progress on Tuesday as he tried to clear several feet of mud from his home’s driveway using a plow attached to the front of his small tractor.

“I’ve been in Yucaipa for 60 years,” Imler told KTLA-TV. “I’ve never seen it so flooded.”

Almost two inches of rain fell on the Yucaipa Ridge. Concerns about more thunderstorms Tuesday prompted authorities to place about 2,000 homes in communities in the San Bernardino Mountains under evacuation orders.

It was too late for some homes in Forest Falls to evacuate Monday and residents were told to take shelter throughout the night because it was safer than venturing outside.

The downpours were the remnants of a tropical storm that brought strong winds and some much-needed rainfall to drought-stricken Southern California last week and helped firefighters largely contain a wildfire that had spiraled out of control about 20 miles south of the mudslides .

The mudflows and flash flooding happened in parts of the San Bernardino Mountains where there are burn scars – areas where there is little vegetation to support the ground – from the 2020 wildfires.

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

One of the fires in 2020, the El Dorado Fire, was started by a smoking device used by a couple to reveal their baby’s gender. A firefighter died and the couple were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The mudslides came after a week in which California endured a record-breaking heatwave. Temperatures in many parts of the state soared above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), straining the state’s power grid as the air conditioners drew power. The Fairview Fire in Southern California and the Mosquito Fire that burned east of Sacramento erupted and raged out of control.

Tropical Storm assisted crews fighting the Fairview Fire about 75 miles (121 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. The 44-square-mile (114-square-kilometer) fire was 62% contained as of Tuesday. Two people died fleeing the fire that destroyed at least 30 homes and other buildings in Riverside County.

The mosquito fire has grown to 200 square kilometers with an 18% containment rate, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. While crews were able to use cooler temperatures and higher humidity to strengthen lines of control, more than 5,800 buildings in Placer and El Dorado counties remained at risk, and around 11,000 residents were under evacuation orders.

Smoky skies from wildfires in many areas of the west on Monday caused air quality to deteriorate, with dangerous particulate matter levels noted by state and private observers in parts of eastern Oregon and Washington, northern California, central Idaho and western Montana. In some areas, people have been told to avoid all outdoor activities until the pollution clears.

In Washington, firefighters scramble to secure resources for a fire that broke out in the remote Stevens Pass area Saturday, prompting hikers to flee and forced evacuations from mountain communities. As of Monday, the Bolt Creek Fire was 2% contained and had scorched nearly 12 square miles (31 square kilometers) of woodland about 65 miles (104 kilometers) northeast of Seattle. A larger dispatch team and additional firefighters were due to arrive Tuesday, officials said.

In Oregon, evacuation orders have been eased near the 135-square-mile (349-square-kilometer) Cedar Creek Fire, which has been burning in Lane and Deschutes counties south of Portland for over a month. Firefighters protected remote homes in Oakridge, Westfir and the surrounding mountain communities. Sheriff’s officers warned people to remain prepared to leave immediately should conditions change.

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 wildfires more frequent and destructive. In the past five years, California has experienced the largest and most destructive fires in its history.


Associated Press writer Christopher Weber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. California mudslide today near Oak Glen, Yucaipa damages homes, carries away cars, prompts evacuations,

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