Threat of Wildfires, Mudslides ‘One-Two’ Punch for Residents in Lilac Fire Burn Area

Residents living in the burn area of last December’s Lilac Fire are protecting themselves from a new threat as rain dumps on their community.

The fire, fueled by gusty winds, consumed more than 4,000 acres and left many hillsides bare. Those bare hillsides are now more susceptible to erosion and mudflows under heavy rains.

The Rancho Monserate Country Club in Fallbrook, where nearly 70 mobile home units were destroyed in last fall’s fire, sits at the bottom of a scorched hill.

Cal Fire described the dual threats of wildfires and mudslides as a one-two punch for residents like Bill Weigel.

"We looked outside and the fire was already a third of the way down this hill. So we evacuated right away,” Weigel said, remembering Dec.7, 2017, the day the fire sparked.

Now when he looks out his window he sees rows upon rows of sandbags staggered along the hill. Resident Ron Lafleur said the sandbags were put up around his home this summer and more were added last week ahead of the storm.

Whether against wildfires or mudslides, LaFleur said protecting his property is a year-round battle.

"This whole hill is going to turn green here in a couple weeks and then it's going to be grey again, then we're going to have to remove fire danger,” he said.

Cal Fire says people living in heavy fire-damaged areas like theirs should always be prepared for changing weather conditions. Part of being prepared, the agency said, includes having an evacuation plan in place.

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