Heavy Washington rain creates mud, slides that close roads, trap motorists, damage homes

The Associated Press
August 22, 2014 12:58 AM

TWISP, Wash. - Mud slides and flash floods triggered by heavy rain falling on wildfire-scarred areas of north-central Washington damaged some homes, blocked portions of at least three highways and stranded motorists, officials say.

There were no reports of injuries Thursday night.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said he heard "a couple" of homes along State Highway 153 near Twisp were damaged. Deputies were trying to reach the residences.

By late Thursday night, the thunderstorms and rain had eased, the sheriff said. Power was reported out in much of the area.

Five to 12 vehicles were marooned on Highway 153 by mud and slides, Washington State Patrol Trooper Darren Wright said. Troopers and sheriff's deputies worked late Thursday night to get the people out and leave the cars temporarily.

Mud and debris prompted the temporary closure of an eight-mile stretch of Highway 153 and a 25-mile section of State Highway 20, both in Okanogan County, the state Transportation Department said.

Wright said a small mudslide in nearby Douglas County blocked U.S. Highway 97 south of Chelan.

While the Carlton Complex wildfires that burned across more than 400 square miles this summer are in mop-up stage, about 500 people are still assigned to fight them and nearby wildfires. Flash flooding and strong winds hit the Carlton fire camp and incident command post Thursday night, the National Park Service reported. All workers were accounted for and reportedly had dry places to sleep.

More than an inch of rain was reported in one hour near Twisp in an area burned by the Carlton Complex fires, National Weather Service meteorologist Matthew Fugazzi said.

"In those burned-out areas, every time we get a heavy rain" the flash flood risk exists, Rogers said. With the vegetation burned off the ground, "there's nothing to hold it, the water just sloughs off."

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