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Flash-flood warning issued as intense rain cells move into L.A. burn areas [Updated]

February 27, 2010 |  3:52 pm

A flash-flood warning was issued for Southern California burn areas this afternoon as a band of intense rain cells moved into the region, capable of producing more than an inch of rain an hour.

According to the National Weather Service, the cells will "likely cause flash flooding and debris flows" in the foothill areas that were burned during last year's massive Station fire. Those areas -- which stretch from Tujunga to La Canada Flintridge -- saw a mudslides early this month that damaged several homes.

The warning is scheduled to last until at least 5:45 p.m. Another warning was issued for Azusa and Glendora.

[Updated at 6:14 p.m. The flash-flood warnings expired, and officials reported no major mudslides in burn areas.]

[Updated at 3:55 p.m.: The rains caused traffic problems and localized street flooding Saturday. According to the California Highway Patrol, some lanes on the 10 Freeway east of Covina were briefly shut down by a mudslide.]

This morning, steady rains hit the area, but there were no reports of mudslides or damage.

Officials said they hoped the brief respite during the mid-morning allowed water levels in two large catch basins to diminish.

Bob Spencer, chief of public affairs for L.A. County Public Works, said the basins -- the Mullaly and Pickens -- have less capacity after the storm front that poured steady rain beginning in the early morning.

He said the Mullaly catch basin is more than 50% full. He did not know about the Pickens basin but said there was potential for both to reach capacity, which could lead to mud and debris overflowing into neighborhood streets, mainly in the Paradise Valley area.

"It's pretty serious," Spencer said. "The hills are extremely saturated."

Fire Capt. Mark Savage of the Los Angeles County Fire Department said 224 homes have been evacuated from La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta.

At least 64 homes were in the Paradise Valley area, but despite the mandatory evacuations, some residents refused to leave. Still, Savage said residents should rethink their decisions and leave their homes while they can.

"Our spotters saw signs of mud and debris flow issues," Savage said. "But we got a break right when things were picking up."

-- Ruben Vives in La Canada Flintridge and Rong-Gong Lin II in Los Angeles

Photo:  A view of downtown Los Angeles from the 5500 block of Castle Rock Drive in La Canada Flintridge. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)