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Storm leaves area as fire-scarred hillsides escape mudslides

October 14, 2009 | 10:28 pm

View Precipitation for rain event Oct. 12-14, 2009 in a larger map

Southern California is expected to see a sharp change in the weather now that a Pacific storm has blown out of the region and -- so far -- spared fire-charred mountain areas from disastrous mudslides.

The storm, which dumped 2 to 3 inches of rain in the Angeles National Forest, contributed to a number of traffic accidents but caused no significant mudflows in areas ravaged by recent wildfires.

Still, officials said, even though the rain has passed, the danger of mudslides will continue as new storm systems develop in the coming weeks and months.

"This is going to be an ongoing issue for all the people living in the burn area, said Capt. Mark Savage, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. "Until there is significant [plant] growth, which might take over a year or two or three years, this could be an issue."

Even though the storm had all but finished late tonight, thousands of Los Angeles residents remained without power. As of 8:15 p.m., 5,500 customers lacked power, more than half of them in the South L.A. and Crenshaw areas, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said.

Residents and officials across the region had prepared for the worst, fortifying homes and mountainsides with sandbags and heavy concrete barriers called K-rails. In unincorporated areas of L.A. County, 6,000 feet of K-rails had been placed in areas prone to mudslides, including those burned by the Station fire that broke out in August.

La Crescenta resident Paul Dutton, who spent Tuesday stacking sandbags at a friend's home in the rain, said he was glad that the worst seemed to have passed. But like others, he couldn't help but think about the next time a storm strikes.

"I'm a little bit concerned ... about the whole community, not just my home," he said.

--Baxter Holmes in La Crescenta and Robert J. Lopez in Los Angeles

Map: Rainfall totals. Credit: Rong-Gong Lin II / Los Angeles Times.