First the rain, then the cleanup

Some 3,600 cubic yards of mud and debris deposited this week by more than a foot of rainfall in Station fire burn areas is being hauled out of the Mullally debris basin — enough to generate about 360 truck trips, said L.A. County Department of Public Works spokesman Bob Spencer.

The cleanout is expected to continue into Friday at Mullally, located along Manistee Drive near the top of Ocean View Boulevard, even if temporarily halted for light rainfall expected in the area this week.

Public Works crews will then move on to empty other debris basins in the foothill area.

"We always concentrate on Mullally first, and we watch if the closest because it's one of the smaller basins. The others still have plenty of capacity in them," Spencer said.

Mullally and most of the other 28 foothills-area basins were filled this week to only 20% capacity by the relentless rainfall, which triggered evacuation orders in La Cañada Flintridge and La Crescenta but failed to reach an intensity severe enough to jar loose larger chunks of rock and debris.

Mullally's capacity was expanded earlier this year from 9,400 cubic yards to 17,500.

On Feb. 6, a boulder loosened by heavy rainfall rolled into Mullally, clogging the basin and sending a wave of mud onto Manistee Drive that damaged several homes.

After last winter's storms, crews hauled 1.2 million cubic yards of debris out of foothills basins. A cubic yard being the size of the average washing machine, it was enough to fill the Rose Bowl three times.

Mud removed this week from Mullally will be trucked down Ocean View to the westbound Foothill (210) Freeway, then hauled north on Pennsylvania Avenue, west on Foothill Boulevard and north on Boston Avenue to a sediment placement site near the Dunsmuir debris basin in Glendale.

Other basin cleanout schedules and truck routes will be posted at

The mud-goes-in, mud-comes-out cycle of debris basin maintenance is expected to continue throughout winter to keep basins at their lowest possible capacities, said Spencer, who cautions hillside residents to remain on alert for signs of hillside sediment movement no matter the weather.

"Just because the sun is out does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that those hillsides are dry. It would take several months of good weather for the hillsides to dry out," he said.

Copyright © 2019, La Cañada Valley Sun
EDITION: California | U.S. & World