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Wildfire victims in Dulzura brace for rains

Wildfire victims in Dulzura brace for rains
Posted at 5:23 PM, Aug 18, 2023

DULZURA, Calif. (KGTV) - Some wildfire victims in the burn areas keep a wary eye on the sky as Hurricane Hilary approaches.

Early Friday afternoon, the wind picked up outside John Gaskins' home in Dulzura ahead of a weekend that could bring a lot of rain.

“It can make somebody nervous,” said Gaskins.

Gaskins knows something about nerves. Last August, he woke to the smell of smoke as the Border 32 Fire bore down on his family's 80-acre ranch.

“The sky was black. It was scary,” said Gaskins.

He evacuated a short time later. The next day came the sobering aftermath. The fire had claimed 4 barns, several vehicles, dozen of chickens, and a horse.

Weeks later, a rainy forecast brought new worries. ABC 10News was there as Gaskins' family members piled the sandbags. Their home was spared any flooding, but the rains left their mark.

How powerful did those rains end up being? There is a creek bed that cuts through the property. It was about 6 to 8 feet deep. After the rains and debris flow, some parts became 20 feet deep.

Over the past three decades, Gaskins has seen several massive rains trigger debris flows.

"Water comes off of mountains. At times, it looked like waves on the ocean,” said Gaskins.

One of them flooded their previous home, built on lower ground.

This time, with recent burn areas less able to absorb rainwater, there are more flooding concerns.

“We took sand from the creek and put it up on the bank,” said Gaskins.

Gaskins' family has shored up the creek banks and plans to stack up plenty of sandbags near the porch, and other areas before the rains come.

“If it comes down hard, we probably won’t sleep much. We need to see where the water is going. We know it can take out a lot of stuff,” said Gaskins.

The family has also cleared a culvert, which has been a problem spot.

The Border 32 Fire burned nearly 4,500 acres in the Barrett Junction area and destroyed ten structures.