KNAU and Arizona News
12:52 pm
Fri July 20, 2012

Monsoons are Causing Flooding in the Wallow Fire Burn Area

Officials in northeastern Arizona say more than a week of consistent rain is causing flooding downstream of the Wallow Fire burn area. The flooding has forest officials and residents on alert.

Last summer, the Wallow Fire became the largest wildfire in state history after it burned nearly 540 thousand acres and destroyed dozens of homes in Arizona and New Mexico.  Now, officials say monsoon rains are causing flash flooding in some of the scarred areas downstream of the burn.

Lawrence Lujan Public Information Officer for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest said, "There’s a lot of stuff shifting on the forest floor now that it’s raining."

He says the forest service has spent the last year trying to lessen the chance of potential flooding in areas burned by the Wallow Fire. Crews have re-seeded and mulched, built culverts and put up signs warning the public about flood zones. But, Lujan says those things don’t guarantee safety against monsoon-related flooding.

"There’s a risk for any area downstream of the Wallow burned area, you know, there are communities, there are homes," he said.  "There could be rolling debris such as logs and rocks."

The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory today for much of the northeastern part of the state, including the burn area and both Apache and Navajo counties.

Officials remind the public not to drive or walk into washes and canyons during rain storms heavy enough to produce flash flooding.