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Mudslide damages six homes, closes road in La Cañada Flintridge [Updated]

November 13, 2009 |  7:43 am

Mud

Residents and officials are assessing the damage after a burn area above La Cañada Flintridge gave way, sending waves of mud through a foothill neighborhood, damaging six homes and nearly covering some cars.

Me-mudslideweb Rock Castle Drive remained closed this morning as public works crews cleaned up the area and firefighters monitored the situation, said L.A. County Fire Inspector Frederic Stowers.

Fire crews and residents have been bracing for mudslides ever since the deadly Station fire ravaged and denuded the Angeles National Forest this summer, a slide threat that is expected to remain for three to five years.

[Updated at 9:47 p.m.: “It’s a little nerve-racking because you don’t know, you don’t know if you have enough time,” said Diane Rohan, 38, as she took her morning walk past county workers clearing mud and debris from the street.

Rohan’s Ocean View Boulevard home was unaffected, but her nerves were frayed.

“It used to rain and you’d be, ‘OK, that’s great,’” she said. “Now it’s, ‘Is the hill going to come down?’”]

A hillside gave way during a particularly heavy period of rain shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday, when one to two inches dropped within five minutes, sending many tons of mud onto Rock Castle Drive and backyards along Normanton Drive. Four to five feet of mud flowed over the protective K-rails that line Rock Castle, blanketing the roadway and covering some cars to their roofs, Stowers said.

Residents voluntarily evacuated when they heard the mudslide, a lesson for all residents of foothill communities, he added.

“Take these warnings seriously,” Stowers said. “The one thing we want to let citizens know is always maintain a state of readiness, emergency preparedness, in case something like this happens where you have to evacuate very quickly.”

For more information about disaster preparedness, visit http://fire.lacounty.gov/.

-- Seema Mehta, reporting from Los Angeles, and Baxter Holmes, reporting from La Canada Flintridge

Photo: Jack Wunderlich shovels mud this morning in the driveway of his home along Ocean View Boulevard in La Crescenta after an isolated downpour caused mudflows in the hills burned by the Station fire. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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