Farmington Fire Causes Mudslide Concerns

Farmington Fire Causes Mudslide Concerns

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Sammy Linebaugh ReportingFirefighters estimate at least two thousand acres have been destroyed in the hills above Farmington, leaving behind scorched, blackened earth. And that barren land could become another serious problem.

Anytime you have a mountain slope this steep sterilized of vegetation the potential for a mudslide becomes a big concern. This area is no stranger to that type of disaster.

In May 1983 Rudd Creek, just a stone's throw from Farmington Canyon...swelled then exploded. A torrent of mud consumed homes, streets and entire neighborhoods.

Jim Taylor, Farmington Resident: “The trees just all of the sudden started to hsake and a big balloon of mud came through and it burst.”

Jim Taylor watched it all happen twenty years ago and looked on this past Thursday night as his home along the foothills was again threatened, this time by fire.

Jim Taylor: "You've heard of fire, pestilence, mud -- when the Mormon crickets come, I'm leaving. I've had it."

Until then, Taylor says if he had to pick the menace that worries him most tonight it isn't the fire, it's the possibility of a second mudslide down the now scorched and barren mountainside.

Jim Taylor: "We have a heavy rain now, there's no place for it to go."

Larry Gillham, Resource Advisor, U.S. Forest Service: "It's very steep country. It's very erosive soils, it's now been burned very hot. So it's created a glaze over the surface so any rain or moisture that falls on there could come off all at once, channel into a drainage, and then create a mudslide."

The deeper the burn, the darker the ash, the more quickly the water runs.

Forest Service Officials say once the fire is out much of the soil here will eventually heal itself and they hope to re-seed the area this fall. In the meantime, other precautions are in the works to protect this Farmington Community until its natural defenses are restored.

Larry Gillham: "They'll go up every one of the drainages, and assess what can be done in there, such as check dams or even putting in hay bails or straw bails, anything that could slow the flow."

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