Saturday, December 19, 2009

slope stability

HOLLYWOOD - A chunk of hillside gave way this morning in a neighborhood near the Hollywood Bowl, triggered by a broken pipe, a sprinkler system, or saturation from recent rains, according to Los Angeles Fire Department officials.

The slide dumped 10 to 15 cubic yards of mud and dirt onto Los Tilos Road and moved a parked sport utility vehicle a short distance but it damaged no homes.

Whatever triggered the slide, water ran freely from a ruptured pipe on the slope for at least two hours after the slide was reported.

The slide in the 7000 block of Los Tilos Road occurred about 5:30 a.m., Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

Linda Chapman, 63, of Roseville, was staying in her father's former home on Los Tilos Road. She said a crashing sound awoke her and she thought it was a car wreck. When she looked outside, she saw a mound of soil and vegetation piled up against a red Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was pushed onto a sidewalk.

"I woke up my husband," she said. "I thought it was a car crash."

Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Robert Rosario said the slide appeared to have been triggered by a broken water line or a sprinkler system that might have been inadvertently left on all night.

Humphrey said it appeared a 1-inch PVC pipe, possibly a private irrigation line, ruptured. But he also raised the possibility the line may have broken as a result of the slide, rather than being the cause of it.

Rosario estimated the slide at 10 to 15 cubic yards of material. By about 6:30 a.m., firefighters thought they had stopped the flow of water, but that apparently was not the case.

The slide affected access to about two dozen homes, Humphrey said. That section of the road was closed. Stranded residents were taking taxis from the clear section of the road, Humphrey said.

A Building and Safety inspector at the scene said he was considering "yellow-tagging" a downslope home.


On scene reporting and photos by Guy McCarthy. More images here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

san gabriel storm

Cucamonga and neighbors 8:25 a.m. Sunday

Runoff from Arroyo Seco emerges from Devil's Gate 7:02 a.m. Sunday

Devil's Gate dam keeper's tower 6:58 a.m. Sunday

Arroyo Seco with JPL and burned slopes in distance 6:55 a.m. Sunday

Dawn from Angeles Crest Highway below closure 6:23 a.m. Sunday

Ducks on Arroyo Seco north of Devil's Gate 8:14 a.m. Saturday

Debris flow on Angeles Crest Highway 7:21 a.m. Saturday

More images here.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

snow burn

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST - Snow on higher elevations in the Station Fire burned areas this winter will be a concern only when it melts - whether by direct sun or warm rains.

"It's all a concern when it turns to water," said Forest spokesman Stanton Florea. "This is a typical snowfall for this time of year. Our biggest three months for precipitation in order are January, February and March. This is just the beginning."

In the meantime the sight of white snow on denuded brown and black mountainsides this morning was striking, and traffic on the Angeles Crest Highway was minimal. There was ice on many of the shaded curves but the road was open beyond Newcomb's Ranch.

More images are here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

arroyo negro

DEVIL'S GATE - The Arroyo Seco was running black today.

From the top of Devil's Gate Dam, dark mud and water ran south out of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Station Fire burned areas, through the dam works to eventually meet the Los Angeles River.

Barbara Ellis, 60, was walking her Australian shepherd Abby, and she described what she saw after a downpour today as a tragedy. From the crest of Devil's Gate she looked down at the blackness moving towards the dam.

"I was watching the little cliffs of mud and ash collapsing with a splash, and thinking of the movie '2012,' " Ellis said. "It's a film about the end of the world. I'm afraid this looks a little like the end of the world, in miniature."

Ellis said she could smell an "acrid, smokey smell, straight from the fire" coming off the water and mud running through the Devil's Gate works to emerge in a jet stream headed south.

"The Arroyo Seco's been my favorite place to walk since I came here 10 years ago," Ellis said. "This Station Fire is a major tragedy. It's destroyed habitat that will take 70 years to recover in some cases.

"Now we see the mud and ash coming down and choking off the existing life down here," she said. "It's backed up Flintridge Creek, the drainage that comes off the Verdugo Hills."

Los Angeles County public works officials spent several days in November cleaning out floating debris that washed into the reservoir, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Layers of black ash and mud were still visible today, possibly from the unexpected storm in mid-November that unleashed debris flows above Ocean View Boulevard in La CaƱada-Flintridge, Ellis said.

"All this blackness didn't come down here today," Ellis said. "You can see layers of it collapsing into the runoff now. It's like oil in a way. Such a shame."

A video of the runoff emerging from Devil's Gate is posted here. More photos are posted here.