DURANGO, Colo. – Mudslides caused by heavy rain on areas stripped bare by a 70,000-acre wildfire swept vehicles off roads and carried farm machinery across fields and ditches, officials said.
La Plata County sheriff's deputies rescued at least six people from vehicles that were swept off roads in the mountainous area of southwestern Colorado late Tuesday, Lt. Dan Bender said.
A family of four had to be rescued from their home after a 15-foot-deep flood carried ash, mud, trees and large boulders across their driveway, Bender said.
Roads closed by Tuesday's slides were reopened Wednesday morning.
It was the second night of slides and floods in Colorado.
In the central part of the state, up to 3 inches of rain fell Monday near Buena Vista, burying a Forest Service road under as much as 20 feet of mud, full-grown trees and car-sized boulders. The rural road likely will be closed for several days, said Cherri Moore, a road clerk for Chaffee County.
In the Durango area, deputies reported seeing large trash containers, farm machinery, occupied cars and boat trailers being swept from subdivisions, and into fields and drainage ditches. Several vehicles were buried.
Numerous gas leaks were reported from propane tanks knocked from their stands, and the potential for explosions delayed the response of heavy equipment, Bender said.
Heavy rain is common at this time of year, but officials are worried this season because of the devastation caused by forest fires. Fires make erosion more likely by burning away trees and shrubs that anchor soil and absorb runoff.
The wildfire near Durango destroyed 56 homes and forced 2,100 people to flee. It was contained last week.