Wildfire-ravaged areas brace for mudslides as storm moves into California
A tropical storm is nearing Southern California even as firefighters battle a huge blaze outside Los Angeles, leading to fears of mudslides and flooding. The evacuation orders are expected to be widened as the remnants of Hurricane Kay could fan the fire. The storm that hit Mexico could bring up to seven inches (18 centimetres) of rain to the area around the Fairview fire.
The 27,000-acre fire, which erupted on Monday, is still spreading, helped by "extreme downslope winds" from nearby mountains. "Winds will increase from the east... Ember cast will dramatically increase as the strong 40+ mph (65+ kph) winds enter the area," Cal Fire warned.
At least two people have already died in the blaze, apparently trapped by fast-moving flames as they tried to flee.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Kay, which made landfall in Mexico as a hurricane on Thursday was rolling north, and is likely to bring heavy rain to parts of California and Arizona.
The rains will create the risk of flash flooding and mudflows in areas where burned-out soil cannot absorb the sudden downpour. "We could go from a fire suppression event into significant rain, water rescues, mudslides, debris (flows)," Jeff Veik of Cal Fire's Riverside Unit told a community meeting.
The storm was lashing southern California with gusts over 100 miles per hour and is expected to provide some relief from the heatwave.
"Overnight lows will continue to rival records this weekend as the increased cloud cover traps warm air at the surface," the National Weather Service said.