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Nearly 200 L.A. foothill homes ordered evacuated by 4 p.m. as storm nears

February 19, 2010 | 10:10 am

Rain Two rainstorms are expected to move into Southern California this weekend, but public works officials said Friday they were confident debris basins would hold up in Los Angeles County foothills ravaged by fire and mudslides.

As a precaution, evacuation orders have been issued for 146 homes in La Canada Flintridge and 46 homes in La Crescenta, said Bob Spencer, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Authorities began calling residents Thursday night, warning them to evacuate their homes by 4 p.m. Friday.

Deputies will be going door-to-door to tell residents about the evacuation orders, law enforcement officials said. Residents also were being advised not to leave trash cans or vehicles on the street. Parking restrictions had been imposed on certain streets in La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta, Spencer said.

Spencer said seven smaller debris basins in the burn areas had been completely cleaned out. The remaining 21 were much larger and could take several weeks to be cleared, but a lot of material had already been removed, Spencer said.

“We’ve got adequate capacity for these particular [rain] events as forecasted,” Spencer said. “But weather can always change.”

Click to use The Times' interactive maps to learn more about which foothill communities are considered at risk.The last several days of dry weather had allowed workers to make significant progress in clearing debris, and “the flood control system is working effectively,” he said. Since the start of the rainy season, 1 million cubic yards of debris had been captured and averted from landing in neighborhoods.

The first of the imminent storms was expected to bring between one-third to three-quarters of an inch of rain overnight Friday into Saturday morning, with up to 1-1/2 inches expected in the valleys and mountains, said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Snow levels were expected to drop to 4,500 feet Friday night with several inches possible in the higher mountain resorts. While the amount of rainfall expected was not as intense as the deluge that triggered mudslides earlier this month, if a thunderstorm were to hit the areas affected by last year’s Station fire, “that could cause problems,” Seto said. Thunderstorms are forecast to occur off the coast or slightly inland, he added.

Angeles Forest Highway, Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road were to be closed Friday at noon, according to the public works department.

More than 1,000 public works personnel were expected to be deployed to burn zones across L.A. County, including areas such as Palos Verdes and Malibu, which were charred by previous wildfires, Spencer said.

A second, less-intense storm was expected to move in Sunday night and into Monday. Intervals of rain are expected Tuesday through Thursday with temperatures ranging from the low- to mid-60s Saturday through Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

-- Ann M. Simmons

Photo: Paul Dupont, left and Sergio Yescas put their weight into their work as they secure K-rails on Ocean View Boulevard in La Canada Flintridge. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Map: Use The Times'interactive maps to learn more about which foothill communities are considered at risk.

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