Southern California Rain Kills 1; Evacuations Ordered at Burn Areas

Pam Wright
Published: December 7, 2018

Heavy rain in California has killed at least one person, trapped people in their cars in San Diego and triggered several mudslides that forced the closure of numerous roadways.

Burbank police reported the death a person involved in a collision on Interstate 5 south of Hollywood Way in Burbank. No other details have been released.

In areas where wildfire burn scars left the land especially vulnerable to debris flows, officials ordered residents to evacuate. In Orange County, residents in Trabuco Canyon were under mandatory evacuations Thursday because of a high mudslide risk at the Holy Fire burn scar, the Associated Press reported.

In Riverside County, residents in several zones were ordered to evacuate near Lake Elsinore because of burn scars left behind by the same wildfire.

Schools in the mandatory evacuation zones kept students after their normal dismissal time. The evacuations were later downgraded to voluntary evacuations. 

(MORE: Check the Forecast for Winter Storm Diego)

A Southwest Airlines plane skidded off a wet runway Thursday morning at Hollywood Burbank Airport north of Los Angeles, the AP also said. No injuries were reported. The plane was carrying 112 passengers and five crew members.

A Southwest Airlines plane slid off the runway at Hollywood Burbank Airport, coming to a stop after its landing gear plowed into a barrier designed to stop the airplane from leaving the runway, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Burbank, California.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times via AP)

"As we landed, you could feel the brakes," passenger Grant Palmer told KABC-TV. "I fly out of Burbank a lot so I know that you have to hit the brakes. It's a short runway. Then mud started hitting the windows, you could see smoke and water and I started noticing the plane going sideways. Then we came to a stop and I noticed we were right up against a retaining wall."

Southwest tweeted about 3:30 p.m. that all its flights into and out of the airport had resumed.

Meanwhile, several mudslides in the Malibu area closed the Pacific Coast Highway for a brief time, as well as several other roads.

Kirby Kotler and his neighbors spent days before the storm stacking some 18,000 sandbags behind their homes along the highway — only to see mud, water and rocks blow through the line of defense and across their properties, the Associated Press reported. He wielded water hoses to beat back the flames in November. On Thursday, he used a tractor to keep the debris flow from entering his home.

"Saving my house once again," Kotler, 57, a lifelong Malibu resident, told AP. "I'm more than a little concerned. If we get another blast of heavy rain there'll be no stopping the hill from coming down."

Malibu Canyon Road was closed because boulders were smashing into vehicles, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department tweeted. 

Another mudslide early Thursday forced the closure of an off-ramp from State Route 170 in Los Angeles. Several other roads in the region had minor flooding.

A flooded roadway in Encino prompted Los Angeles firefighters to rescue several stranded motorists that were trapped in 2 feet of water, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Numerous spinouts were reported in the area, including a Mitsubishi that hydroplaned off Agoura Road into rocks and bushes in Agoura Hills.

Firefighters rescued a man from the flood-swollen Los Angeles River in suburban La Habra. The concrete flood-control channel has swept people away in previous years.

A pedestrian leaps across a flooded portion of the La Paz and Seventh Street intersection as the rainy side of Winter Storm Diego arrived, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018 in Victorville, California.
(James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)

Malibu city spokesman Matt Myerhoff told the L.A. Times crews were working to clear mud, water and rocks from city streets.

A six-vehicle crash on California Highway 91 in Corona left at least one person injured, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A social media post showed cars submerged on a street in Costa Mesa.

The Costa Mesa Police Department said water was two to four feet deep on some city streets.

The CBS affiliate in Los Angeles reported that several areas of Orange County were flooded and several schools were forced to close early because of the rising water.

In San Diego, heavy rains trapped numerous people in the vehicles, while in Carlsbad, part of a roof to collapsed at a child care center and heavy rain flooded businesses in the same shopping center. No injuries were reported.

Flooding forced the evacuation of at least 300 people from a homeless shelter in San Diego's East Village. 

As of Friday morning, more than 14,000 remained without power, according to 

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