Rains Could Cause Landslides In Burned Areas

Nov 5, 2020

The first significant rain of the season in our region has officials concerned about potential landslides in areas recently burned by wildfire.

A hazard sign on Highway 126.
Credit ODOT

Angela Beers-Seydel with the Oregon Department of Transportation said normally trees and vegetation hold rocks and dirt in place on hillsides along roads. She said along Highway 126 where the Holiday Farm Fire burned, the roadside is transformed.

“The whole landscape is different.” Said Beers-Seydel.  “And, we’ve been going through it, trying to mitigate where we think there might be problems, but when the landscape changes that means those trees and roots and vegetation aren’t there to hold things in place like they used to.”

Highway 126 has a lower speed limit since the Holiday Farm Fire created new hazards. 

Even in areas not affected by recent fires, the first major storm of the season can make driving treacherous.

“People should be ready wherever they are, not just in fire-impacted areas but throughout the state.” Beers-Seydel said. “When we get those first few storms the roadway is slick because there hasn’t been rain to wash off all the stuff that accumulates on it. Hillsides are dry and so we do get landslides in different areas around the state.”

Beers-Seydel said ODOT crews have done some work to mitigate the landslide risk in areas that burned in September. They’ve also placed signs on Highway 126 warning of potential for landslides.

Highway 242, or Old McKenzie Highway, closed for the winter season Thursday due to snow forecast for the Cascade mountains.

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