July 12, 2008

Debris Danger Feared From Mountain Areas

By Michael Sorba

Authorities are urging anyone in San Bernardino County mountain areas this weekend to use caution and be aware of the dangers of debris flows, especially around the areas charred by 2007's Slide and Grass Valley wildfires.

Thunderstorms, expected in mountain areas this weekend, have county officials concerned storm runoff from barren, charred areas could result in dangerous debris flows consisting of rushing water, soil and rock.

The county Public Works Department issued the warning to remind people dangerous conditions still exist despite a recent lack of storm activity.

"Debris flows can be in and below any of the Slide and Grass Valley fire areas," said Roni M. Edis, the department's staff analyst and public information officer.

Residents are being urged to be aware of their surroundings and approaching storms, and be sure to avoid flood-control debris basins and channels.

If roads leading away from property are in danger of being washed out, residents should identify the nearest high ground, according to a county statement.

"They need to try to get to higher ground if they do see a lot of debris flow," Edis said.

Residents should not drive where water is over the road because floodwaters can rise rapidly and sweep a car and its occupants away, the statement said.

Debris flows killed 16 people in Waterman Canyon and Devore on Dec. 25, 2003.

The incidents led to the creation of an emergency alert system that people can sign up for to receive notice of impending danger via phone.

If roads become blocked as a result of debris flows, the public can can contact their local road yard or the Public Works Department 24-hour dispatch at (909) 387-8063, Edis said.

[email protected]


(909) 386-3872

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