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L.A. storms: Azusa hillside unstable, more evacuations ordered

Colby FireNational Weather Service

An unstable hillside in Azusa prompted police to order evacuations Friday evening of all 26 homes on Ridge View Drive in the Colby fire burn area.

"The hillside is not stable," said Azusa police Sgt. Sam Fleming, adding there is already 2 to 3 feet of mud in the backyards of two homes on the street. 

"Mud is extremely heavy, and people can get stuck real quick," Fleming said. "Should that hillside go, it's going to happen quickly. We're wanting to get as many people out quickly ... because there won't be a lot of time." 

Ridge View Drive is a U-shaped road in Azusa. Officials had earlier ordered the evacuation of the 10 homes on that street that directly faced the hillside. 

A flash-flood watch was in effect for all of Los Angeles County, as officials warned that heavy rain and possible thunderstorms could sweep across the area. The storm is expected to last through Saturday night. 

The concern was highest in the San Gabriel Valley foothills, where around 3 p.m. brief intense downpours brought more flows of mud across the Colby burn area in Glendora and the Madison burn area in Monrovia, the National Weather Service said. 

Assistant L.A. County Fire Chief of Operations Steve Martin said debris flows are starting to pick up and “the mud is getting thicker.”

"Now is a very important time for us to be diligent in these patrols,” he said.

Martin reminded people to follow the mandatory evacuation orders in Glendora and Azusa because firefighters may be unable to rescue them in an emergency.

“At the risk of sounding coarse … if you are stuck in your house and mud and debris there, were are not going to come get you out while that debris is still flowing,” Martin said.

As the light rain suddenly became a downpour during a 3 p.m. news conference at the Glendora library, somebody yelled, “That’s a microburst, people! That’s what we don’t want!”

"This could be bad," another agreed.

At an evacuation shelter in Glendora, Mike Schaub clutched the purple leash attached to his 2-year-old German shepherd, Daisy, and considered what to do.

Schaub had come to the Crowther Teen and Family Center in his black rubber rain boots and ripped jeans after evacuating his home on Cairngrove Lane. The land behind his house was still charred from the Colby fire earlier this year, which came to within about 30 feet of the back of his house.

Now, the charred land is mud, which is slowly sliding down the hill.

"It's the hillside falling down," he said.

 

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