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Burn scars become focus areas for Caltrans as storm hits our area

Posted at 6:24 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 22:36:13-05

Along the Central Coast, there are two burn scars Caltrans is keeping a close eye on as the storm hits our region.

In Santa Barbara County, evacuations have been ordered in the area of the Alisal Fire burn scar. That fire prompted the closure of Highway 101 when it broke out in October.

To the north, storm preparations are in full effect for Caltrans as they try to minimize travel into the Big Sur area where the Dolan Fire burned in 2020.

Since Sunday evening, a 44-mile closure of Highway 1 has been in effect.

“The closure was in response to an evacuation warning given by the County of Monterey and at the request of the California Highway Patrol," said Kevin Drabinski, Caltrans public information officer.

The closure is a safety precaution taken due to the predicted rainfall expected to exceed debris flow thresholds.

“Rain on top of a burn scar, the vegetation and trees in many cases is just a wasteland at the top of the mountain slopes and what you get with intense rain and prolonged rain is the possibility of debris flow," Drabinski said.

Experts say within three years of a fire is when the burn area is most susceptible to debris flow.

Caltrans officials say as of Monday afternoon, there have been just minor reports of rockfall on Highway 1. They also said they will wait until the end of the day Monday to determine whether to lift the closure or modify the parameters of the closure.

For now, Caltrans officials say the evacuation closure will be in effect at least until Tuesday morning.

Caltrans' maintenance team is in full force out in the field making sure other highways in the area are being monitored for any flooding or rock debris.