California rain: 80-foot-wide mudslide; 14 rescued after flash flood

The season’s biggest storm washed out a road in Riverside County early Thursday, spurring the rescue of 14 people from five marooned cars in Gilman Springs, officials said.

Meanwhile, in San Diego County, mudslides and flooding were reported in numerous locations. The San Diego River spilled over its banks and the parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium was flooded.  

The Gilman Springs rescue began about 1:30 a.m. at Subletter and Gilman Springs roads when emergency responders were sent to help a vehicle stranded in mud and water, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

Crews pulled the vehicle’s two occupants to safety. As the rescue seemed to be winding down, crews found four more cars caught in the flood. Nine more people — all unharmed — were taken to safety, officials said.


The incident was caused by a brief but heavy downpour in the area, said National Weather Service lead forecaster Greg Martin.

“What we had earlier this week was steady and soaked in and saturated things,” Martin said. “But since midnight, showers and isolated thunderstorms are falling on saturated ground, causing flooding.”

Between midnight and 1:30 a.m. about 1.5 inches of rain fell in the Gilman Springs area, he said. Residents got a two-hour break after the downpour but then the rain picked up again at about 3:30 a.m..

The Inland Empire received about 3 inches of rain in six hours, Martin said. The heaviest rain should subside before noon.


Heavy rain in San Diego left several cars in the Mission Hills neighborhood partially submerged. A road in Harmony Grove in northern San Diego County was closed. And in the backcountry in eastern San Diego County, 60 to 80 feet of mud and rock closed Dehesa Road at Sloan Canyon Road in the Alpine, Spring Valley area.

The California Highway Patrol was investigating a possible collision of three vehicles.

The CHP reported 90 collisions in the county between midnight and 8 a.m., compared with 50 to 70 on a “good weather” day.

 @JosephSerna @LATsandiego