La Tuna Canyon Burn Area Evacuated as Storm Triggers Mud Flows Blocking Roadways

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The area of La Tuna Canyon scorched by wildfires and left vulnerable to flows of mud from a rainstorm was evacuated by Tuesday evening, Los Angeles Police Department officials announced.

About 1,000 homes in that area were affected by an onslaught of mud and debris brought on by a rainstorm, officials said earlier in the day. Later, LAPD officials said 23 homes on La Tuna Canyon Road were affected by the evacuation order, which was issued for people living in the area between 8300 La Tuna Canyon Road and 8800 La Tuna Canyon Road.

The major road was closed from Sunland Boulevard to the 210 Freeway as debris and mud flooded into the area Tuesday.

Two lanes, one in each direction of La Tuna Canyon Road between the 9100 and 10500 blocks, were temporarily reopened for an eight-hour stretch to residents only, according to LAPD. The closure will be lifted from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. before going back into effect to allow personnel to continue with cleanup efforts.

The area of La Tuna Canyon left scorched bare by wildfires was slammed with flows of mud and debris from a rainstorm on Jan. 9, 2018. (Credit: KTLA)

The area of La Tuna Canyon left scorched bare by wildfires was slammed with flows of mud and debris from a rainstorm on Jan. 9, 2018. (Credit: KTLA)

Meanwhile, those who live on the same road south of the addresses included in the evacuation order were told by authorities they could voluntarily evacuate.

Despite the pleas to leave by public officials, some local residents would not evacuate. Six people inside a home in the 8300 block of La Tuna Canyon Road decided to stay behind after they were given a mandatory evacuation order, according to Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Branden Silverman.

Their home got washed out and they were left stranded, Silverman said. When the water eventually receded, emergency responders created a bridge out of wood and pulled three people across it to safety, he said.

The three others refused to leave and no one was injured, Silverman said.

In some spots along La Tuna Canyon Road, mud piles reached up to 36 inches high as the rainstorm sent soil and debris flowing down, officials said.

That layer of sediment lying on the roadway can be more difficult to get across than it may appear and only vehicles with four-wheel drive can handle the terrain, said Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Jaime Moore.

"People are deceived by the thickness of the soil," he said. "They try to drive over the roads. When they try to drive onto the roads, they get stuck."

The evacuation order and road closure are expected to stay in effect until roads can be safely cleared and the threat to nearby homes is properly reassessed, officials said.

One basin in the area will undergo construction to increase its storage capacity, L.A. county officials said, as the facility and others are vital to protecting against the devastating impact of mudslides.

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