Sunday, October 4, 2009

san gabriels

Looking south from Angeles Crest Highway Oct. 1.

By Guy McCarthy

The wind-driven Sheep Fire on the east end of the San Gabriel Mountains forced officials to call for mandatory evacuations earlier today in Wrightwood in San Bernardino County.

Further west in the same mountain range, the 250-square-mile burned areas of the still-smoldering Station Fire remain a primary concern for many Los Angeles city and county residents.

Above Big Tujunga Dam Oct. 1.

A report by the U.S. Geological Survey detailing probability, volume and location of possible post-fire erosion events in and below the Station Fire burned areas is expected to be released to the public this week, according to Sue Cannon, a USGS project manager based in Golden, Colo.

"We hope to have it available online for the public at the same time we make an announcement," Cannon said in a recent phone interview.

Cannon helped lead a team six years ago that prepared a similar report within weeks of the October 2003 Old and Grand Prix fires, which denuded a 40-mile mountain front from Upland, below the east San Gabriels, to Highland, below the San Bernardino Mountains.

Lower Big Tujunga Canyon Oct. 1.

The need for timely and accurate assessment of post-fire dangers was underscored on Christmas Day 2003, when torrential rains on burned watersheds unleashed flash floods and debris flows that killed 16 people -- including nine children -- in Waterman and Cable canyons just outside the city of San Bernardino.

"The urbanized areas below the Station Fire are of course a focus of the report," Cannon said. "But as we learned in 2003, the interior canyons are especially vulnerable."


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