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

Kelly Chadwick of Port McNeill tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 3. (Submitted)
Port McNeill mother confirms positive COVID-19 test

The mother of two is self-isolating and following all protocols

Speed limit change on Hwy 19 north of Port McNeill. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
New speed limit near Cluxewe Resort on Hwy 19

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure made the change Dec. 1

Felled spruce and cedar trees waiting to be stripped, sorted and hauled down Island. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Kwakiutl First Nation angry at logging in Douglas Treaty land

The nation is calling on government to honour the Douglas Treaty

The Christmas Tree being put back up in the Thunderbird Mall parking lot. (Thunderbird Mall photo)
Giant Christmas tree returns to Thunderbird Mall Parking lot

At the end of the 2019, extreme winds knocked over the community Christmas tree.

Black Press file photo
Port Hardy RCMP catch shoplifting suspect who allegedly stole over $500 worth of clothing from local store

The suspect was eventually released with multiple conditions and to attend court in February of 2021

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

The opening day on Mount Washington this year was Dec. 4. Screenshot
Mount Washington opens on time, COVID-19 protocols in place

“We’re super excited - it’s been six months in the planning.”

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

Most Read