Wed May 11, 2011

Spring Rain Increases Flood Danger in Four Mile Canyon Burn Area

Boulder County officials are in “wait and see” mode as a spring storm brings rain and snow to the area burned by last September’s Four Mile Canyon wildfire. The moisture is welcome in many parts of the Front Range but it could trigger mudslides and other problems in the burn area.

A distinctive lack of precipitation was partly to blame for the wildfire that scorched more than 6,000 acres and destroyed 169 homes west of Boulder. And until enough vegetation re-grows on the barren hillsides the threat of flooding exists every time it rains.

“We’re really watching and learning. It’s kind of an experiential process here. We don’t know exactly know how the terrain is going to react to this amount of rain,” says Gary Sanfacon, who is the Four Mile Canyon fire recovery coordinator.

Sanfacon says they have been actively training for the possibility of flooding for months and that they feel confident with their planning and preparation. He adds that close to 20,000 sandbags have been distributed to residents still living in and around the burn area.

The other uncertainty from this week’s storm is what exactly what impact the moisture will have on the mulch and seed that was spread over 2,000 acres of land earlier this spring.