Storm brings flood fears to S. California burn areas
LOS ANGELES — Authorities kept a worried eye Friday on fire-scarred Southern California hillsides after a storm brought flooding fears and prompted evacuation orders for hundreds of homes.
The second storm in a week dropped record-breaking rains on downtown Los Angeles, jammed major roads and sent an airliner skidding off a runway, but no major injuries were reported.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for areas of Orange and Riverside counties ravaged by a summer wildfire. Black, surging torrents choked with downed trees and mud swept down channels near homes and in one case swept across a bridge and took out a guardrail.
Other areas saw foot-deep mud or water.
No homes were seriously damaged but even though the storm eased by nightfall, evacuation orders for hundreds of homes in Trabuco Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains south of Los Angeles and for a few neighborhoods in the Lake Elsinore area east of Los Angeles remained in place overnight.
Other Lake Elsinore areas had their mandatory evacuation orders downgraded to voluntary evacuation warnings late Thursday night, although fire officials said there was still a potential for dangerous conditions and urged residents to remain vigilant.
Also in Lake Elsinore, firefighters worked into the night lining a street with sandbags to protect homes.
“We just don’t know the stability of our hills anymore,” Lake Elsinore Mayor Natasha Johnson told KABC-TV earlier. “The fire did its devastation ... the hills behind us that are not a concern could become a concern very quickly.”
A mudslide shut down Pacific Coast Highway and surrounding roads in and around Malibu neighborhoods charred by another fire last month last month that destroyed hundreds of homes.
Kirby Kotler and his neighbors spent days before the storm stacking 18,000 sandbags behind their homes along the highway. But when heavy rains arrived, mud, water and rocks blasted through the bags and across their properties.
Kotler, who wielded water hoses to beat back the flames in November, used a tractor to keep the debris from entering his home.
“Saving my house once again,” said Kotler, 57, a lifelong Malibu resident. “I’m more than a little concerned. If we get another blast of heavy rain there’ll be no stopping the hill from coming down.”
At Hollywood Burbank Airport, about 15 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, nobody was hurt when a Southwest Airlines plane from Oakland skidded off a wet runway as it landed. The plane came to a stop in a graded area designed to slow aircraft that overshoot the runway, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
“As we landed, you could feel the brakes,” passenger Grant Palmer told KABC-TV. “Then I started noticing the plane going sideways.”
Palmer said he was prepared to tuck into an emergency posture while his unflappable co-worker continued writing emails during the rough landing.
In National City in San Diego County, firefighters rescued people at a homeless encampment known as “The Jungle.” Some of the homeless had climbed trees, in one case along with three dogs, to escape raging waters as deep as 12 feet, KUSI-TV reported .
A pedestrian leaps across a flooded portion of the La Paz and Seventh Street intersection as a winter storm arrived Thursday in Victorville, Calif.