More rain forecast in wildfire-scarred area hit by flash floods, mudslides in Washington


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Thunderstorms have dropped heavy rain on areas of north-central Washington hard-hit by wildfires this summer, triggering flash floods and mudslides that have damaged some homes, blocked portions of highways and stranded some motorists. (Aug. 22)

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TWISP, Washington — A slow-moving front bringing heavy rain and thunder is expected to arrive in areas of Washington state scarred by wildfires on Sunday — days after flash floods destroyed at least 10 homes and closed down highways.

The rain is forecast to arrive late Sunday morning and slowly move over the area, bringing new headaches to an area already singed from widespread wildfires and flooding.

"That combination of heavy rain and slow-moving thunderstorms could be a concern for burnt scars and bring the possibility of flash floods and debris flows," National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Van Horn said.

An estimated 10 homes were damaged or destroyed and highways were blocked as heavy rains unleashed mudslides on Thursday in an area of north-central Washington where hillsides have been left barren by wildfires.

Damage to homes from the storms Thursday evening included mud, rushing water and the powerful force of the two together.

Days later, affected residents were cleaning up and marveling at being hit again by nature.

"I don't know how many times, I just kept saying, 'How's this possible? How's this possible?' " Carlton resident Bob Elk told the Wenatchee World ( ).

Elk and Janie Lewis were making dinner when they heard a loud noise approach their home. In an instant, water flooded their home, bringing mud inside and briefly taking Elk down.

Together, the couple managed to smash out a window in the back door of their home.

"And then it just roared through the door," Lewis said.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said he believes a couple of the 10 homes were destroyed, a few were knocked off their foundations, and many suffered mud damage.

"Still no injuries," he said Friday night. "No deaths. No missing people."

The slides and flooding hit hard in areas burned by this summer's Carlton Complex wildfires. The fires burned more than 400 square miles, making it the largest wildfire in the state's history. About 500 firefighters remain in the area mopping up.

Chunks of highways were eaten away by the deluge.

A section of State Highway 153 through the hard-hit Methow Valley remained closed Friday. But Highway 20, a key corridor in the area, re-opened.

The multiple slides had marooned as many as a dozen vehicles, but occupants of those cars were rescued, the Washington State Patrol said.

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