COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – People living in or near the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area are being warned of the risk of flooding in that area.
People living in that area started sandbagging and placing barricades around their homes Wednesday.
The most destructive wildfire in Colorado’s history has significantly changed the landscape which increased the risk of debris flow and flooding.
Hillsides once protected by vegetation have been compromised and precipitation could have significant impacts on the landscape.
Those living in both the burn area and those downstream of the burn area have been warned to prepare for potential flooding.
Rain was falling Wednesday afternoon in that area and forecasters believe the best time for flooding to begin, if it does, will be around midnight.
The 28-square-mile wildfire forced nearly 29,000 people from their homes. Investigators say the fire was human-caused, but they haven’t said whether it was intentional.
More than 300 homes were destroyed in the fire.
Contractors need dump trucks for all the material they need to build fortresses around homes.
“The barrier is about 4 feet high. The one right here is about 150 feet long,” contractor George Mallett said.
Mallett had been working in driving rain to protect two homes along Fountain Creek. Each bag holds more than a ton of sand. The homes there flooded last year when mud washed downhill in heavy rains. Whether or not the bags are enough is just a guess.
“They’re going to protect the homes to the best of our knowledge, you know, nobody knows how catastrophic it’s going to be or how big it’s going to be,” Mallett said.
“If it dams the creek it’s going to flood the rest of the way up through this little part of the valley where the baseball field is, so it could get back,” homeowner Johnathan Dooley said.
Dooley was filling 400 sandbags for his home just 5 feet above the current water line. If he gets flooded, he’ll just with one of the first.
“This is Sand Gulch. This was the fire line. Anything that comes down here, everything else is going down this way,” Dooley said.
Closer to the burn area homeowners have abandoned sandbags all together. Rock cages will become permanent barriers for rushing waters. The potential for flooding is high and may not change for years to come.
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