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Storms batter state, Alpine flood cleanup underway

Published: Friday, Aug. 23 2013 11:30 a.m. MDT

Motorists drive along I-80 in the rain as lightning strikes nearby in Salt Lake City August 22, 2013.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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ALPINE — Heavy rains on top of healing burn scars triggered flooding in two parts of the state heading into the weekend.

Cleanup from Thursday night's heavy rainstorm that caused water, mud and a debris flow down the Quail Fire burn scar was expected to last several days. But fire officials said the damage to homes overall was minimal.

One house, however, was flooded with 18 inches of mud and water.

Continued rain is expected through the weekend into next week, with storms forecasted across the state from Sunday through Tuesday.

Flood watches were in effect for much of central and southern Utah through the weekend.

"You get this kind of mud coming down. … There's not a whole lot you can do except get out of the way," homeowner Aaron Frazier said.

About a half-inch of rain fell in 30 minutes Thursday night over the Dry Creek Canyon area where in July 2012 the Quail Fire burned more than 5,000 acres and brought the evacuation of about 80 homes.

Water spread through about a half-mile area and affected a shopping plaza, said Lone Peak Fire Battalion Chief Joseph McRay.

"The crews from Alpine have been working hard to make sure they can do as much as possible to make sure they are diverting the mud and flow away from the homes," McRay said.

Despite the homes being in relatively good shape, roads and many yards were covered with mud Friday morning.

Neighbors spent the day filing and stacking sandbags against threats of continued rain and possible flooding through the weekend.

Emery County

In Emery County sudden heavy downpours through the night went charging down Huntington Canyon early Friday morning.

State Route 31 was closed for cleanup after torrents of water reportedly flowed six feet wide, covering the roadway in mud and debris from the Seeley Fire burn scar. Teams from the Utah Department of Transportation spent the day shoring up a culvert alongside the road that was nearly washed out by the rushing water.

The Seeley Fire burned more than 48,000 acres last summer, which led to debris flows and flooding last July and August, Capt. Kyle Ekker from the Emery County Sheriff's Office said.

One year later, they face the same threat.

"We're getting more debris and flood waters coming down, so we're dealing with it again," Ekker said.

Also Thursday night, the strong storm caused a flash flood in Dry Creek Canyon, stranding two hikers overnight when their trail was wiped out. They were stranded on a ridgeline about 3 miles up the trail.

"The first time I talked with them on the phone, you could hear … the crack of the thunder and lightning almost on top of each other as they were talking to me," Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Eldon Packer said. "(It was a) pretty scary situation."

The couple was safely helped off the mountain Friday morning. They were reportedly in good condition.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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