A storm that brought more than an inch of rain in an hour on Thursday afternoon has triggered flash flooding in places hit by the massive Camp Fire in Northern California, sending trees toppling and stranding motorists caught in high waters, according to officials.
Cal Fire spokesman Rick Carhart said the department had activated swift water rescue teams to save multiple people caught in flooded roads.
“We have responded to reports of a number of stranded vehicles in the roadways,” Carhart said.
The Associated Press reported the water rescues took place in Chico, where many of the evacuees from Paradise have been staying since that town was decimated by the deadly Camp Fire that began three weeks ago.
“It rained really hard in a short amount of time and this whole thing came up really quickly,” Carhart said, explaining that “the roots and the bottoms of the utility poles are just kind of swimming,” according to the AP.
In Chico, law enforcement officials also warned of downed power lines and urged people to report them to 911 and not to drive over them.
Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued across swaths of Butte County where rain is expected to hammer the area over the next three days. It is unclear when the latest evacuation orders might be lifted.
Officials said there’s also the possibility of mudslides, especially in areas charred by the fire.
The National Weather Service said a flash flood watch for the Camp Fire burn area will be in effect until 10 p.m. PST. Officials said the heavy rainfall “could quickly become a dangerous situation.”
“DO NOT DRIVE AROUND BARRICADES. TURN AROUND…DON`T DROWN!” the statement warned the public.
A flash flood warning is also in effect for burn-scar areas from the Carr, Delta, Hirz and Mendocino Complex fire.
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