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Mudslide evacuations remain in O.C. as incoming storm keeps fears high

OC Public Works crew cleans street after a mudslide down fire-scarred mountainsides along Silverado Canyon Rd
OC Public Works crew cleans street after a mudslide down fire-scarred mountainsides along Silverado Canyon Rd.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

More than 2,000 Orange County residents remained under evacuation orders Thursday morning after heavy rains sent mud hurtling down a hillside and into several homes the day before.

With another storm approaching, authorities said they remain on high alert.

Silverado, Williams and Modjeska canyons were all under mandatory evacuation orders just before 9 a.m., said Sgt. Dennis Breckner, a spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The areas were all scarred by the Bond fire, which broke out in early December amid Santa Ana winds, making them especially susceptible to debris flows.

Between 2 and 3 feet of mud covered around half of a mile of Silverado Canyon Road. Crews are using heavy equipment to clear the impassible road.

“There’s no changes in our staffing pattern. We’re ready for everything,” said Sean Doran, a spokesperson for the Orange County Fire Authority.

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On Wednesday morning, rains triggered a massive mudslide in Silverado Canyon that slammed into homes and cars but caused no reported injuries.

Jonathan Atcheley and his 9-year-old daughter, Soren, ride along surveying the damage caused by a winter storm
Jonathan Atcheley and his 9-year-old daughter, Soren, ride along surveying the damage caused by a winter storm that caused mudslide along Silverado Canyon Rd.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)
A cat walks along mud-soaked sandbags on Silverado Canyon following a mudslide on Wednesday.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Four residents were trapped in their homes by the brown sludge and had to be freed by Orange County firefighters, Doran said.

Up to seven houses had thick mud flowing through them. One resident reported a rear deck came loose and was carried into the home below, officials said.

Some residents who tried to leave found their exit road on Silverado Canyon Road blocked by mud, he added. Video shows crews using special vehicles to push the debris off the road.

Overnight and into Thursday morning, there were additional debris flows “but nothing too crazy,” Breckner said.

A second late-winter storm is expected to descend on Southern California on Thursday, with the potential for heavy downpours in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.

A flash flood watch is in effect through the evening for the Santa Ana Mountains and foothills and Orange County inland areas.

Authorities plan to monitor the weather and reassess evacuation orders in Orange County later in the morning, Breckner said.

Boots dangle from a flag post along Silverado Canyon Rd
Boots dangle from a flag post along Silverado Canyon Rd on Thursday, after heavy rains the day before triggered a mudslide.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Californians regularly experience wildfires followed by heavy rain and mudslides. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.


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