Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

First fire, then flooding? Concern storm will trigger debris flows, flash flooding in Alisal Fire burn area

Mike Eliason
Santa Barbara County Fire Department
Crews work to remove trees damaged by the Alisal Fire along Refugio Road which could fall onto the roadway because of a storm expected Sunday and Monday.

Heaviest rainfall expected early Monday, but timing could change over weekend.

A storm headed to the Central and South Coasts is creating concern about the potential for debris flows and flash flooding in Santa Barbara County’s Alisal brush fire burn area.

The nearly 17,000 acre fire is 97% contained as of Friday night. It burned from the Santa Ynez Mountain range down to the ocean on parts of the Gaviota coastline.

National Weather Service meteorologists say the storm could drop one to two inches of rain in the area, with the heaviest rainfall between four and eight a.m. Monday. At this point, rainfall rates aren’t expected to be high enough to trigger major slides.

Mark Jackson, with the National Weather Service says with the burn area having no recovery time, it doesn’t take much to have problems with rain hitting the slopes.

Jackson talks about key safety issues in the burn area. He says if evacuation orders are issues, people should leave immediately. He also says during the storm, people should stay off the roads in the burn zone mountain and canyon areas, because they will be especially susceptible to slides and flooding.

There’s an evacuation warning in place (as of 6 p.m. Friday) for the area west of Las Flores Canyon, east of Mariposa Reina, South of West Camino Cielo, and down to the Pacific Ocean.

Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig says they will have a number of resources deployed in, and around the burn area when the storm arrives. They include four wheel drive trucks and water rescue units.

Meteorologists say the heaviest rainfall from this storm will hit Northern California. Parts of the Central Coast could get three inches. They say we’ll know more about the rainfall totals, and timing of the storm as we move through the weekend.

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.