UPDATE: Bouquet Canyon closure; Sand fire victims warned of flooding, debris flows with approaching storm

Scene of the Sand Fire destruction July 2016.

Seasonal rains prompted the closure of one canyon road, and concerns about the burn areas.

People living in fire-ravaged areas such as Sand Canyon are being warned about the possibility of flash flooding and debris flows by weather officials forecasting as much as inch of rain to fall on the Santa Clarita Valley by tomorrow morning.

“We have a flash flood watch for those areas,” said Scott Sukup of the National Weather Service office based in Oxnard, referring to residents in areas affected by the Sand Fire this past summer and by the Powerhouse Fire three years ago.

“There’s the potential for flash flooding and debris flows,” he said. “So, we want to give people a heads up.”

One of those people affected by the Sand Fire and preparing for the advance of rainstorms is Steve Arklin Jr. of Rancho Deluxe filming location.

“We are taking precautions,” Arklin told The Signal Thursday morning. “We started clearing the river bottom of dead branches to get rid of the debris.

“We started putting up sandbags, making little walls, preparing for the rain,” he said.

Between a half-inch and an inch of rain is expected to fall on the SCV beginning tonight and into Friday morning, Sukup said.

Bouquet Canyon

In anticipation of the storm, county officials announced they are closing a section of Bouquet Canyon Road prone to flooding.

A section of Bouquet Canyon Road within Angeles National Forest will be closed Thursday at 9 p.m., in advance of this week’s predicted storm event, Steve Frasher, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works said Thursday.

“The 3.5-mile stretch of road is prone to flooding with even minor flow in adjacent Bouquet Canyon Creek,” he said. “The road will remain closed as long as conditions warrant.”

The section of Bouquet Canyon Road has been a long-standing concern for County officials wrestling with ways to correct the problem.

“If there’s any fluctuation with the water at all it starts flooding there,” Frasher said. “So, we’re closing it down and notifying people so that no one gets caught by surprise.”

The closure is expected to extend from about two miles north of Vasquez Canyon Road to 5.5 miles north of Vasquez Canyon Road. Gates will be locked near Mile Marker 15.97 near the southern boundary of Angeles National Forest, and on the north near Mile Marker 12.55, south of Big Oaks Lodge.

County officials are urging motorists to find alternate routes through the area.

A digital sign was posted Thursday on Bouquet Canyon Road near Seco Canyon Road warning of pending rain and possible flooding.

A sign on Bouquet Canyon Road near Espuella Drive warns drivers of a possible road closure following a forecast rainstorm on Friday. Katharine Lotze/Signal
A sign on Bouquet Canyon Road near Espuella Drive warns drivers of a possible road closure following a forecast rainstorm on Friday. Katharine Lotze/Signal

“The heaviest rain we anticipate would occur late (Thursday) night and early tomorrow (Friday),” Sukup said. “There’s a slight chance of thunderstorms as well when the heavier rain is expected tomorrow.”

Flooding, mudslides and debris flows are possibilities with the approaching storm, he said.

Sukup explained how areas burnt by wildfires leave the soil “rootless,” allowing water to run off of it or move the soil on hillsides.

“When the vegetation dies you get a loss of the root system” he said. “That makes the water harder to infiltrate the soil and it runs off faster.  The faster moving water picks up rocks and branches and creates debris flows.”

Close to 42,000 acres were burned by the Sand Fire this past summer, 19 homes destroyed and one resident killed.

Rancho Deluxe was one of those areas impacted by the Sand Fire.

“Our property did get burnt up,” Arklin said. “We’re still cleaning up the place.”

The Powerhouse Fire hit an area north of the SCV from May 30 to June 10, in 2013.  It burned more than 30,000 acres and destroyed 53 structures.


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