Mudslides feared in Summit Fire area

October 30, 2008 11:50:48 PM PDT
Emergency officials are worried loose dirt will fall down a burnt hillside and onto a house, that five months ago was saved from the Summit Fire.

Emergency officials are worried about loose dirt that could fall down a burnt hillside and onto a house, that five months ago was saved from the Summit Fire.

Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ellen Pirie is glued to the satellite weather images on her computer.

"I've got a pit in my stomach thinking, 'Oh no, is this going to be the start of something bad,'" said Pirie.

She's worried about her Corralitos constituents, the hundreds of homeowners who were in the Summit Fire's path in May. With the expected rain fall the bare and burnt hillsides could erode causing landslides and road closures. It would put anyone living downhill and downstream from the burnt property in danger.

"We are taking it very seriously. We have gone so far as to develop an action plan for storm response in the Summit Fire area," said Paul Horvat, from the Santa Cruz County Office of Emergency Services.

The county's emergency management division has extra personnel on call. They've already sent out a reverse 911 message warning residents about the landslide and flood possibilities and 500 letters recently went out as a backup.

"I perfectly understand their concerns," said Larry Berk, a Corralitos homeowner.

Berk received one of those letters. The fire swept through his property, but he's not too worried about his burnt hillside.

"I'm more concerned about trees down below on the first stretch going down, where it burned on Eureka Canyon, falling down in the road so I can't get to work in the morning," said Berk.

Those at the public works department have the same concerns. They already cleared ditches and drains near major roads in the area.


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