Vehicles pass each other on a flooded street Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, in Chico, Calif. Flash flooding hit a wildfire-scarred area of Northern California on Thursday, forcing officials to deploy swift water rescue teams to save people stuck in vehicles and rescue them from homes after a downpour near the Paradise area. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Vehicles pass each other on a flooded street Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, in Chico, Calif. Flash flooding hit a wildfire-scarred area of Northern California on Thursday, forcing officials to deploy swift water rescue teams to save people stuck in vehicles and rescue them from homes after a downpour near the Paradise area. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California floods recede after storms in wildfire burn areas

Thursday’s storm brought 3.8 centimetres of rain in an hour

After fleeing a wildfire that came dangerously close to his Northern California home earlier this month, Dale Word evacuated again when flash floods inundated roads and trapped motorists and residents.

Swift water teams used boats to make rescues at three homes and officials told people in about 100 vehicles to stay in place. The rain receded late Thursday afternoon, leaving a mess of sticky mud and debris. Downed trees and power poles littered the landscape.

Word, a firmware engineer, waded through thigh-high water to higher ground in his semi-rural Chico neighbourhood — stunned by the disasters that have hit Butte County. The recent fire came within several hundred feet of his home, which is about 140 miles (225 kilometres) northeast of San Francisco.

“Everywhere you go you’re talking to people who have lost everything and it’s just tragic,” Word said. He jokingly added, “It feels like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are going to come riding over the hill any day now.”

RELATED: Northern California wildfire nearly quadruples in size

Thursday’s storm brought 1 1/2 inches (3.8 centimetres) of rain in an hour, said the National Weather Service.

The sheriff’s department ordered evacuations but could not say how many people were affected. The water rescues were in Chico, where many of the fire evacuees from Paradise are staying.

Paradise has been under mandatory evacuation orders for nearly three weeks since the firestorm killed at least 88 people and destroyed nearly 14,000 homes.

Residents could begin returning early next week, but only if the wet weather doesn’t hinder efforts to clear roads and restore power, Sheriff Kory Honea said Wednesday.

In Southern California, authorities ordered evacuations in a small Malibu community within a wildfire burn zone where a mudslide blocked streets amid the heavy rains. No major damage was reported by the time flood warnings and watches expired.

The storm knocked out power and flooded roadways across greater Los Angeles. Numerous traffic accidents occurred on slick freeways and most vehicles travelling in the mountains were ordered to put chains on their tires. Mud and rock slides also closed two mountain highways.

Residents were urged to voluntarily evacuate a string of neighbourhoods about 45 miles (70 kilometres) southeast of Los Angeles along a flank of the Santa Ana Mountains where a fire burned thousands of acres last summer. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for parts of the city of Lake Elsinore beneath charred hillsides where there were heavy debris flows but no significant damage.

West of Los Angeles, no major problems were reported after rain fell heavily at times in vast areas burned by fires this month and last December — an area where there are strong memories of a January downpour that unleashed devastating debris flows through the community of Montecito that killed 21 people and left two missing.

RELATED: Northern California wildfire is deadliest in state history

On the coast near Big Sur, the California Department of Transportation closed a 12-mile (19-kilometre) stretch of Highway 1 because of potential instability.

The weather service also issued a backcountry avalanche warning for most of the central Sierra, including the Lake Tahoe area.

Olga R. Rodriguez, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Almost every health region in the province saw an increase in overdose calls last year. (Blackpress files)
Overdose call numbers reach five-year-high in Maple Ridge.

BC Emergency Health Services responded to almost 500 local calls in 2020

Members of the Maple Ridge Disc Golf Club team up to update the “frolf” course at Thornhill Park. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge Disc Golf Club helps upgrade local course

Thornhill Park frisbee links usage has skyrocketed since pandemic

Cody Malawsky at the box lacrosse provincials in 2019. As the highly skilled player adds size he will dominate junior, predicts longtime coach Daren Fridge. (Tim McCormick/Special to The News)
Ridge Meadows Hospice Society volunteer Jill Constable. (Ridge Meadows Hospice Society/Special to The News)
Ridge Meadows Hospice celebrating 25 years

Celebratory White Dove Dinner raising money for support and grief programs

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Snow is forecasted to appear in parts of Metro Vancouver this weekend. (Black Press Media files)
Snow forecasted for parts of Lower Mainland this weekend

Environment Canada is predicting flurries and snow from Saturday to Monday evening

Most Read