After Rain, Mudslides, Flooding Become Biggest Threats
GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES
LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– With recent heavy rains and more in the forecast for the weekend, the High Park Fire and Hewlett Gulch Fire burn areas are no longer at an extreme risk for fire but have the potential for mudslides and flash flooding.
“They’re predicting rain all weekend now, so if it isn’t fire it’s rain,” said Poudre Canyon resident Charlie Wrobbel.
Highway 14 at Ted’s Place, the entrance to Poudre Canyon, was closed for several hours Friday afternoon because of mudslides, triggered by the rain, that swept across the road.
It took crews from the Colorado Department of Transportation several hours to clear the highway of debris.
This is in the High Park Fire burn area. The fire burned more than 87,000 acres after it was started by lightning June 9. Firefighters have the fire 100 percent contained. The Hewlett Gulch fire burned more than 7,500 acres.
Charred hillsides are vulnerable to erosion and flooding during downpours because they have less vegetation to soak up rain, and burned soils can repel water.
The mudslides also put dozens of residents on a pre-evacuation alert.
All that mud and ash made its way into the river which made the water murky. It even killed some fish.
“I turned around and there was probably about 10 more fish just belly up everywhere. They had pretty much suffocated from the ash,” said one Poudre Canyon resident.
“All this black stuff is in the river, the water looks totally black and foamy,” said Rosemary Solano.
Her home was spared by the fire and Friday’s mudslide just missed the front door of her home.
“I started laughing because I thought, ‘Oh my God, I missed this other disaster.’ I lived again,” said Solano.
Flash flood warnings may continue until Monday. Highway 14 may experience more mudslides and falling rocks which may impact residents and impede travel along the highway.
Highway 14 residents from Mishawaka on the west to Gateway Park on the east remain under a pre-evacuation alert. Residents should be ready to leave at a moment’s notice if conditions worsen. There is no evacuation site open at this time but will be opened if an evacuation is necessary. A total of 227 emergency notifications were sent.
“It’s wearing on us. I try to take things in stride but after a while it wears on you,” said Wrobbel.