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Woolsey fire-ravaged areas are in the clear from mudslide danger, for now

Woolsey fire-ravaged areas are in the clear from mudslide danger, for now
Jonathan Lopez places sandbags earlier this week to protect against erosion from a hillside and protect what's left of his home in Malibu.  The first post-fire rainfall came and went without significant mudslides or debris flow from fire-scarred hillsides.  (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Residents of Los Angeles and Ventura counties reeling from the 100,000-acre Woolsey fire can breathe easy for now — the first post-fire rainfall came and went without significant mudslides or debris flow from fire-scarred hillsides.

The Southland received a quarter of an inch to an inch of rain overnight. Authorities and emergency officials had braced for the possibility that the rainfall could trigger mudslides and flooding in burn areas, particularly in the steep canyons of Malibu.

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A flood advisory issued by the National Weather Service overnight remained in effect until 3 a.m.

“We were on alert, and we are still on alert for mudslides. At this point we haven’t received any news regarding mudslides,” said Deputy Armando Viera of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department information bureau. “It’s good news for the people in Malibu. … They’ve been through a lot.”

Bonnie Bartling, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, said no more rainfall was expected in the region over the weekend.

“We’re pretty much done with it,” she said. “It’s just going to dry out, warm up for the weekend.”

Experts have cautioned that residents will have to remain on alert for storms in the coming months that could send mud and debris coursing down the newly burned areas of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The fear is that there could be a repeat of the sort of disaster that hit Montecito after last December’s Thomas fire. In January, a devastating mudslide in the community killed at least 21 people and wrecked more than 100 homes.

Fire-ravaged areas in Northern California affected by the Camp fire, which has burned through more than 150,000 acres, remain on edge. A winter storm warning and flash flood watch are in effect there through Friday, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

With 870 residents still unaccounted for in the fire that has already claimed at least 83 lives, authorities there were rushing to recover as many remains as possible before the storms.

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