Rain sparks flood fears in areas burned by Wallow Fire

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on July 5, 2011 at 8:17 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 5 at 9:36 AM

GREER, Ariz. -- Residents of the charred town of Greer are keeping a close eye on the weather after late-night rain caused some flooding in areas burned by the Wallow Fire.

The rain was not excessive, but the scorched areas are especially susceptible to flooding, which is always a concern in the wake of a wildfire. The area is also at risk for potentially dangerous mudslides and debris flow.

Diane Lay, the aunt of 3TV meteorologist April Warnecke, lives in Greer and checked in via phone.

“We got a pretty good rain, which isn’t anything unusual for us up here,” Lay said.

She said she tried to drive to the area where the main part of the fire was, but she was unable.

“There was quite a bit of mud and some debris that’s come down,” she explained. “The village looks fine.”

She said she heard tractors and front-loaders working to clear the road.

Lay said the fire department was prepared and ready to roll.

“They’ve been busy putting sandbags in the affected areas,” she said.

Residents have been warned to prepare for potential flooding.

“With the rain, the grass is going to start coming up again, so that’s good," Lay said.

While there were no mandatory evacuations because of potential flood dangers, some residents decided on their own to leave for the night in case the worse happened.

Arizona's Emergency Operations Center has been planning and working for weeks to mitigate the potential flood damage.

"The landscape will be changed," explained Judy Kioski of the Division of Emergency Management when the EOC opened last month in response to the Wallow Fire. "When the monsoon storms hit, the water is going to react differently. Places that didn't flood last year could flood this year."

The sun was shining on Greer in the morning, but the evening is likely going to bring another chance for storms.

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