A new report released by the U.S. Forest Service is showing that Soberanes Fire could still be problem even after it’s put out. The more than 40 page Burned Area Emergency Response report said burned areas mixed with heavy rain could cause rockslides, floods and debris flows.
Erica Clark is one of the lucky ones. The Soberanes Fire destroyed 57 homes that belonged to her neighbors. Clark’s home, off Palo Colorado Road, is standing but it was still a scary situation.
“Our home did survive, my backyard was a back burn so that’s gone,” said Clark.
On Monday, the Soberanes Fire didn’t present any immediate danger to the neighborhood because the fire has moved south, but in a few months, Clark will most likely have a new challenge to deal with winter.
“We are worried about winter that some of the boulders, that are showing now, that were hidden by the trees, could come down in slides.”
Clark isn’t the only one who thinks winter could be a problem. A report released by the U.S. Forest Service found that more than 44,000 acres of burned land received a high erosion hazard rating, but the danger doesn’t end there.
“Debris flows can impact whatever is in their way,” said Allen King, a geologist who worked on the BAER report.
The report said those debris flows would likely occur during heavy rains. Specific trouble areas are steep slopes where the fire was so intense that it essentially baked the soil.
“That can lead to an increase in the potential for downstream development for debris flows,” said King.
The report also details some recommendations, including storm patrols and a warning system to make sure everyone is safe.
“One of the things we are looking into is an early-warning system that would allow people to know ahead of time that there are significant downpours,” said King.
The report also said is that people should be ready to evacuate if needed. And that is something Clark says she is ready to do if necessary.
“Because I have a 4 and a 2-year-old so we are just doing what we can,” said Clark.
Monterey County officials said they're reviewing the BAER report and are waiting for another report by Cal Fire before moving forward with any recommendations.