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Heavy Rains Bring Mudslide Worries To Region Scarred By Rim Fire

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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (CBS13) — Wildfires followed by rain.

It’s a dangerous combination around the Rim Fire burn scars, where property owners are preparing for landslides and protecting their properties.

Storm patrols checked the burn area for downed trees and other possible damage.

“Any bridge areas that might have debris flow that’s stuck in there, any trees or trash,” said Pamela Baltimore with the U.S. Forest Service.

The flames from the devastating fire in and around Yosemite National Park damaged soil so badly that severe burn areas won’t absorb water.

The fear is that heavy rainfall could send charred trees and other debris into roadways and beyond sparking mudslides that could bring recovery efforts to a halt.

Specialized crews spent time immediately following the fire that burned 410 square miles to prepare for winter’s wrath. Barriers are in place along Highway 120 to stop slides as drivers head to Yosemite.

Crews have also built culverts, and booms can be seen next to areas covered with strategically placed straw.

“It helps the soil absorb it,” Baltimore said. “It keeps a lot of erosion from occurring quickly.”

Much of the blaze burned in the Tuolumne River watershed. Heavy rains could send debris downstream, straight into water supplies.

As more wet weather heads to the burn area, the Forest Service is working with water districts to monitor water quality.

“It’s been clear, there’s hardly any sediment at all right now, which is a really good sign,” Baltimore said.

Forest roads inside the burn area remain closed as the cleanup process is expected to continue for months.

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