Bad mudslides follow Calif.'s costly wildfires

November 12, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- Just as the scorching fires were over, the first rains of the season began falling on Southern California, causing mudslides that forced dirt, rocks and debris from the burned-out hills, washed cars down streets and raised fears that this was just the beginning of a long and destructive winter.

Hardest hit by far was the coastal community of Laguna Beach, where yesterday's slides sent a wave of muck through the streets, damaged two dozen homes and a number of cars and caused the closure of one main road.

In Malibu and Calabasas, where fires raced through the canyons last week, a mudslide shut down all but one lane of Pacific Coast Highway as residents filled sandbags in anticipation of the next round of slides. The mud and debris on the highway took about six hours to clear.

The damage was produced by relatively little rain -- between a quarter-inch and a half-inch in most areas.

A second coastal storm system was expected to move into Southern California today.

Slide experts say the rains may be the opening salvo of an extremely destructive winter. The brush fires that raged out of control for almost two weeks, taking three lives and destroying more than 1,100 structures, burned vegetation off more than 200,000 acres in six counties. The denuded hills are now ripe for mudslides.

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