Officials Fear Mudslides on Hills Denuded by Colby Fire

Residents living close to the Colby Fire are encouraged to "clean out gutters and drains, clear debris"

By Steven Covelman and John Cádiz Klemack
|  Monday, Feb 24, 2014  |  Updated 8:40 PM PDT
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Sandbagging is underway as Southern California braces for long overdue rain later in the week. People near Glendora are warned about the possibility of dangerous flooding. John Cádiz Klemack reports from Glendora for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.

John Cadiz Klemack, Tom Bravo

Sandbagging is underway as Southern California braces for long overdue rain later in the week. People near Glendora are warned about the possibility of dangerous flooding. John Cádiz Klemack reports from Glendora for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.

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Rain Prompts Mudslide Alert in Foothill Areas

The storm system passing through the LA metro area on Thursday brought only small amounts of rain, but foothill areas affected by the recent Colby Fire were on alert for possible mudslide conditions. Mekahlo Medina reports from Irwindale for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014.
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Officials in a foothill community recently denuded by fire are urging residents to remove vehicles and trash bins from the streets ahead of a pair storms that could bring up to 4 inches of rain and mudslides.

Forecasters expect up to a half an inch of rain on Wednesday in some areas and up to 2 inches on the coast Friday through Sunday, said Stuart Seto, of the National Weather Service.

Mountain areas may get up to 4 inches, with a possibility of thunderstorms.

“Residents need to stay alert,” Seto said. “Clean out gutters and drains, clear debris. Plan to stay in doors and keep the blankets and flashlights handy.”

Tom Verti, who lives in a Glendora neighborhood under the potential mudflow path, was taking no chances. He stacked sandbags along the edge of his street on Monday to help prevent a deluge.

"It becomes a natural gutter," he said of his street, which sits under the hillsides denuded by the Colby Fire. "We're hoping to prevent water and mud from going over that fence, then into the house."

Bob Spencer, a spokesman with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, said his agency has been preparing for the potential for mudslides since the summer by clearning out debris basins to make room for new muck.

Officials have also put out an alert to ensure vehicles and other objects don't fall victim to severe flooding. Vehicles that are not moved off streets could be towed, city officials said.

The Colby Fire started Jan. 16 and burned nearly 2,000 acres. It destroyed five homes, damaged 17 others and injured six people, including five firefighters.

Officials have recorded only 1.2 inches of rain since July, way below the yearly normal of 11 inches, forecasters said.

The rain, if it comes, will be a welcome sight. Gov. Jerry Brown said the state is seeing "perhaps the worst drought" since records were kept about 100 years ago.

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