RUSTIC, Colorado – A woman was found dead and three others were missing after rain triggered flooding and mudslides in an area of northern Colorado burned by a large wildfire last year, said the authorities announced on Wednesday.
The woman’s body was found near the small community of Rustic, about 100 miles northwest of Denver, after a mudslide sent a large amount of debris into a scenic and winding canyon on Tuesday night, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office announced.
His identity and the cause of his death will be disclosed by the coroner’s office at a later date. Search operations are expected to resume Thursday.
About an inch of rain fell over the Crown Point area in a short time on Tuesday, said Larimer County Sheriff’s Office Captain Joe Shellhammer, Colo., Who is part of the USA TODAY Network. This rain drained into the Black Hollow area and created a dam of debris that burst, causing flash floods and mudslides.
About six mudslides have occurred as a result of flooding, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Transportation said. At least five houses were destroyed and a private bridge was damaged.
A long field of debris was left along the river, including propane tanks, stove pipes, lawn chairs, dishes, garden hoses and an American flag.
The area burned last year in the 326 square mile Cameron Peak fire, which likely contributed to flooding and mudslides, Sheriff’s spokesman Jered Kramer said. Fires burn vegetation which usually helps absorb rain, making these areas more vulnerable to flooding, especially in steep sections. Soil in burnt areas can repel rain as well.
Heavy rains over the burnt area of Cameron Peak Fire have ceased and “flooding should no longer be a threat,” according to the National Weather Service.
Black Hollow flood devastation
As of Wednesday afternoon, at least five homes in the Black Hollow area of the canyon were totaled, including Joyce Sjogren’s cabin along Black Hollow Road. Sjogren bought the property with her husband in 1972 and replaced her existing mobile home with a cabin in the 1980s, she said.
“We liked it so much (up there) and we both retired,” Sjogren said.
On Wednesday, Sjogren received a call from his neighbor following Tuesday’s devastating flooding, called “Black Hollow Flood” by county emergency officials.
“It was safe, but (my cabin) next door is on a slope in Black Hollow Creek and the water came down and took my cabin away,” Sjogren said.
At this point, Sjogren said she was unsure whether she and her husband would be rebuilding at the site.
“It’s very sad for me and my family who have enjoyed it so far,” she said.
Contribute: The Associated Press.