Fire Then flood: Flash Flooding Forces Evacuations Along Camp Fire Burn Scar, Mudslides Also A Threat

The Butte County Sheriff's Department issued evacuation notices for residents living with the Camp Fire burn scar on Thursday — for water, not fire.

Mere days after the Camp Fire was completely contained by firefighters, heavy rains rolled into the area, dumping an estimated 1 inch of rain per hour, the Associated Press reports.

The sheriff's office issued evacuation orders shortly after 1 p.m. local time from the 200 block of Honey Run Road to Skyway — a highway that runs through the town of Paradise, California which was devastated by the wildfire.

It is unknown how many people are in the initial evacuation area. However, the department later issued additional evacuations for other areas near Paradise and Chico, California.

Flooding evacuations continue in Butte County. Unknown how many residents evacuated or how many people rescued. @ButteSheriff @abc7newsbayarea #campFire #abc7now

— Carlos Saucedo (@Carlos_Saucedo) November 29, 2018

The abrupt rise in water levels prompted water rescue teams to respond to calls from trapped residents in Chico, which is located downhill from Paradise. Downed trees and utility poles were also reported, as well as flooded roads.

"The roots and the bottoms of the utility poles are just kind of swimming. It rained really hard in a short amount of time and this whole thing came up really quickly," Rick Carhart, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told the Associated Press. "This is heavy rain in a short period of time and that's the worst thing that can happen in the burn scar."

99 just south of Chico about 30 min ago

— Leigh (@MeasmomLeigh) November 29, 2018

According to, even light rain after a fire can pose a risk for flash flooding.

"Rainfall that would normally be absorbed will run off extremely quickly after a wildfire, as burned soil can be as water repellant as pavement. As a result, much less rainfall is required to produce a flash flood. A good rule of thumb is: "If you can look uphill from where you are and see a burnt-out area, you are at risk," the website says.

The area is also at risk for mudslides, which frequently occur after wildfires are followed by heavy rains. In January, 15 people were killed by a mudslide in Southern California following the Thomas Fire.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for the Camp Fire Burn Scar that will remain in effect until midnight on Sunday as a weather system brings heavy rain and thunderstorms to Northern California and snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The rainfall also could deter residents of Paradise from returning to their homes, the AP reports. Residents have been under a mandatory evacuation for three weeks and could possibly return next week if the storm does not create any additional problems, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said.

Over 14,000 homes were destroyed and at least 88 people killed in the Camp Fire, the deadliest in California history.