After fire, mudslides possible

Heavy rains help douse Mountain Fire, bring possible mud slides

July 24, 2013

"Itís pretty much in the smoldering category right now"

— Lee Beyer

A Southern California wildfire that destroyed seven homes and threatened the mountain town of Idyllwild was sluggish after a thunderstorm drenched the timberland, and more storms doused the remaining flames.

The 43-square-mile fire above Palm Springs is now considered 85 percent contained.

“It’s pretty much in the smoldering category right now,” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Lee Beyer said. “There’s no moving fire.”

Thousands of evacuees were allowed back home Sunday as a thunderstorm dumped up to 2 inches of rain on portions of the week-old fire.

The rain was beneficial for firefighters, but powerful downpours also raise the potential for flooding and mudslides in recently burned areas, prompting authorities to issue a voluntary evacuation warning for about 20 homes several miles southeast of Idyllwild.

With rain in the area “it has the potential to be more serious, “ Beyer said. “It’s raining hard now, it’s going to be bringing the mud down in a very short time.”

Crews also must watch out for possible falling burnt trees.

Authorities have said the fire was human-caused but wouldn’t say whether it was accidental or intentional.

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