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Flash flood watch issued in Calaveras County fire area

Destruction wrought by the Butte fire in Calaveras County in September is expected to cause further problems when heavy rain scours the denuded landscape, leading to possible flooding and debris flows.
Destruction wrought by the Butte fire in Calaveras County in September is expected to cause further problems when heavy rain scours the denuded landscape, leading to possible flooding and debris flows. rbenton@sacbee.com

National Weather Service officials have issued a flash flood watch for Calaveras County in areas burned by the recent Butte Fire.

The warning was issued Monday morning as heavy rains hit the denuded hillsides where a September fire swept through 71,000 acres, burned 475 homes, and left two dead.

“Flash floods and debris flows will be a particular threat in and below the recent burn scars due to the potential for thunderstorms on Monday,” county officials said in a statement. “Recent burn areas typically absorb only small amounts of rainfall, leading to enhanced runoff, particularly when rainfall rates are heavy.

“Those traveling along roadways within the burn areas should be alert for possible road problems due to flooding, rock, and debris flows.”

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Weather forecasters project rainfall Monday that could exceed a quarter-inch per hour, along with thunderstorms, with potential for hail.

Forecasts call for a chance of showers Tuesday in the fire area. No rain is forecast for the rest of the week.

Meanwhile, work continues to remove debris from fire areas, Calaveras County officials said. Work is focused on the western and central Jesus Maria areas, as well as in the Old Gulch, Wendell and Moke Hill areas. Work also is planned to begin in the East Murray Creek, Avenue A, Whiskey Slide and Hawver areas.

Crews this week are scheduled to work every day. Residents are being warned about traffic risks associated with the debris removal vehicles on mountain roads.

Rain comes down in the Bay Area in this artistic slow motion video.

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