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Efforts To Prepare For Possible Flooding, Debris Flows From Latest South Coast Wildfire In High Gear


It was a wildfire which caused a big scare in the mountains above Santa Barbara and Goleta, and forced thousands of evacuations.

Fortunately, the 3100 acre Cave Fire was stopped before it could burn homes.

But last November’s blaze wasn’t even out when the first of a series of storms came, triggering another issue: the threat of flash floods and debris flows.

Fortunately, it’s been so far, so good when it comes to storm related issues in the Cave Fire burn zone.

Tom Fayram is Santa Barbara County’s Deputy Public Works Director. He says a number of assessments of the risk from the Cave Fire Burn Area have been completed.

The Santa Barbara County public works officials talks about one of the areas hardest hit by the Cave Fire, and its flooding potential. Fayram says much of the San Antonio Creek basin was charred, but it doesn’t have the same risk factors as Montecito did following the Thomas Fire. The drainage area is wider, and the slopes are not as steep.

Fayram says they’ve been busy preparing debris basins in and around the Cave Fire burn zone. The public works official says while they are in good shape to deal with potential concerns, they also know not to be overconfident.

Fayram admits the last few years have been rough for his public works team. He says they’ve effectively been working all-out for two years, dealing with the aftereffects of not just the Cave and Thomas wildfires, but also other blazes like the Holiday, Whittier, and Sherpa wildfires.

He says when it rains, they closely monitor all of the burn zones for big issues, like potential evacuations and road closures. However, they are also looking at whether they need to send in crews to keep debris basins and creeks open, so little problems don’t become big ones.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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