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Fri, May 24

Officials warn of Yarnell flooding danger

Government officials are urging Yarnell residents in the areas burned by the Yarnell Hill wildfire to immediately prepare for potential flooding.

The fire burned especially hot, leaving tons of ash that will flow down boulder-strewn hillsides when the first big monsoon rains hit.

"There's a sense of urgency," Yavapai County Emergency Management Director Denny Foulk said. "Post-fire flooding is a major concern. It could be rather significant."

County officials have delivered thousands of sandbags to four locations in Yarnell: the Yarnell Fire Department, Flora Mae Park, the Shrine of St. Joseph, and along Foothills Road by the county trash bins, he said.

Low-lying areas such as parcels along Miller Creek are of special concern, he said. He urged people to make sure that debris is not blocking the flow of water in creeks and ditches, and volunteers already are working to clear out these waterways.

The Yavapai County Flood Control District has installed two temporary streamflow gauges at strategic locations on the south and east sides of the burned area to receive early warning about potential flooding, Foulk said.

The fire started on state trust land, so the state is responsible for any efforts to reduce post-fire flooding on public lands above Yarnell.

The state is working with federal and county officials to come up with ways to reduce flooding, Arizona State Forestry Division fire spokesperson Carrie Dennett said.

Spreading seed wouldn't do any good because it would just wash away in the first big monsoon rain, she said.


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