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Californians warned of post-wildfires winter flood risk

October 24, 2018 GMT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say Californians they are now at greater risk of flooding and debris flows during this winter’s storms because of the many wildfires that have scorched vast areas of land.

Federal, state and local officials issued the warning Wednesday at a press conference in Santa Barbara, adjacent to Montecito where a January debris flow from the Thomas Fire burn scar devastated homes, killed 21 people and left two missing.

The state Department of Water Resources says more than 7 million California residents are at risk of flooding.

Experts say post-fire floods are a greater risk to homes downslope from scorched areas because the ground cannot absorb the water, which picks up ash, topsoil and debris as it flows downhill.