Crews Use Explosives to Blast Boulders Plugging Creeks in Montecito After Deadly Mudslides

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Micah Gammons, a licensed blaster with Caltrans, has gotten a lot of practice blowing up boulders recently.

A crew crosses over the Ashley Road Bridge over Montecito Creek in Montecito as they try to clear debris, restore power and open roadways after an onslaught of deadly mudslides hit the area earlier in January 2018. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A crew crosses over the Ashley Road Bridge over Montecito Creek in Montecito as they try to clear debris, restore power and open roadways after an onslaught of deadly mudslides hit the area earlier in January 2018. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Last year, there were the 300-ton granite boulders that rolled onto Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo County. Now, he’s busting sandstone boulders bigger than an SUV in Montecito.

“We usually do one to three blasts a year,” said Gammons, the District 5 maintenance superintendent. “This year…we’ve done well over 30.”

A dozen of those explosions have been in Montecito, where a Jan. 9 storm dumped 25% of its water in a single five-minute span. The deluge turned fire-ravaged hillsides into rivers of mud, trees and massive sandstone rock.

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