Less than a year after a roaring mudslide left 23 people dead or missing in Montecito, state and federal officials will gather in Santa Barbara County on Wednesday to issue a warning to all Californians: Massive summer wildfires have left many communities facing an increased risk of flooding.
The announcement, part of California Flood Preparedness Week, comes as the state’s wet season is quickly approaching.
The massive Thomas fire that started in December was still burning when a storm cell pounded the scorched hillsides above Montecito and dissolved it into a deadly river of mud and rock in January. Now, authorities are warning that recent wildfires have created a recipe for similar disaster.
“It’s not just our coastal areas, or by rivers and streams. It’s hillsides and valleys. Suburban and urban,” said Chris Orrock, a spokesman with the Department of Water Resources. “California experienced [thousands of] fires this summer alone. In the last year we’ve had three of the largest fires in California history.”
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