Floods and mudslides that emergency workers feared since rains started to hit the 416 Fire burn scar arrived Tuesday (July 17) afternoon, with significant debris flows across U.S. Highway 550, railroad tracks and East Animas Road (County Road 250), north of Durango, Colo.
The flooding was first reported around 5:15 p.m. as a strong rainstorm pelted the area, according to The Durango Herald. Though rain tapered off around 6 p.m., debris flows caused issues late into Tuesday evening.
The mudslides were caused in part because of the 416 wildfire which has been burning near the area since early June. The fire has burned more than 54,000 acres and was 50% contained Monday afternoon, fire officials said.
“Because of the heavy rains this afternoon, we’ve had several mud and debris slides run across the highway along this half-mile stretch of highway near the burn area,” said John Palmer, maintenance deputy superintendent with the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The Durango North/Riverside Kampgrounds of America (KOA) was evacuated due to the flooding and mudslides. About 200 campers were bused to the La Plata Fairgrounds, where the Red Cross set up a shelter.
Davis could not say how widespread the flood was or whether homes were damaged.
The Hermosa area is on pre-evacuation notice because heavy rains in the upper portion of the watershed can take a while to reach homes, said Butch Knowlton, director of La Plata County Emergency Management.
Firefighters were investigating two reported gas leaks: one at the KOA campground and one on East Animas Road. Davis said the leak at the KOA campground had been controlled.
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