Rescuers searched for a person missing in Tuesday’s landslide as large yellow tractors plowed through thick, black mud and pushed rocks out of the road after flash floods swept away the land. rocks and trees down the flaming slopes, washing away cars and burying buildings in small mountain communities in Southern California.
With thunderstorms forecast and more landslides possible on Wednesday, evacuation orders remain in place in parts of the San Bernardino Mountains while a wildfire raging 805 kilometers to the north forced people had to leave their homes.
East of Los Angeles, research teams searched street by street for people who might have been trapped by muddy streams that swept rocks, trees and other debris the previous day into Forest Falls, Oak Glen and Yucaipa and left behind a pile of mud and untold destruction.
Eric Sherwin, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department, said homes and other buildings were damaged, including one commercial building that was buried so high that its roof collapsed.
“We have rocks moving through that weigh many tons,” Sherwin said. “It can take days just to find all the missing cars because they are completely covered in mud.”
A video shows a slow flowing river of black mud rolling past the signage of the Oak Glen Steakhouse and Saloon, followed seconds later by a rising wave carrying deeper logs. The next day, the mud seemed to be as high as a person’s head.
Officials lifted some mandatory evacuations and shelter-in-place orders Tuesday night.
Workers were able to clear most of Falls Drive’s Valley – the only road to Forest Falls – and teams are assessing the damage. Other major roads in the San Bernardino Mountains have reopened.
For some homes in Forest Falls, it was too late to evacuate on Monday. Residents are asked to shelter in place for the night as it is safer than venturing out.
The downpours are the remnants of a tropical storm that brought high winds and some much-needed rain to drought-stricken Southern California last week, helping firefighters weather the Fairview Fire that raged. out of control, about 32 km south of the mudslides.
Mud flows and flash floods occurred in parts of the San Bernardino Mountains, where there are burn scars — areas with little vegetation to hold onto land — from the 2020 wildfires.
“All that dirt turned into mud and started to slide down the mountain,” Sherwin said.
Crew fights forest fires
The strong thunderstorms come after a week that saw California endure a record-long heat wave. Temperatures in many parts of the state soared to 38 degrees Celsius, and pushed the state’s power grid to the point of failure as air conditioners sucked up all the electricity.
The tropical storm supported teams battling the Fairview Fire about 121 kilometers southeast of Los Angeles. The 114 square kilometer fire was 62 percent contained as of Tuesday. Two people were killed while fleeing a fire that destroyed at least 35 homes and other structures in Riverside County.
The Mosquito Fire, 177 kilometers northeast of San Francisco, broke out in the afternoon just hours after officials reported making “big strides” in the battle.
Fire brigade spokesman Chris Valenzuela said: “We have it all on deck. “It burns very erratically and strongly.
Climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the past three decades, scientists say, and will continue to make more extreme weather and more frequent and destructive wildfires. Over the past five years, California has experienced the largest and most destructive wildfires in history.