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15 homes damaged from debris flow along burn scars in Gila County

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Posted at 1:44 PM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-05 20:30:40-04

Fifteen homes have been damaged from debris flow that came along the burn scars from the Telegraph Fire in Gila County.

Along with homes, several bridges, culverts and low water crossings were damaged, according to Carl Melford, the director of Gila County’s emergency management division.

The Telegraph Fire burned more than 180,000 acres around Globe, El Capitan and other areas around the county.

Melford said rain on the 4th of July caused the first debris flow down the Pinal Mountains of the burn scars because the water could not be absorbed into the ground. The water is full of ash, mud, trees and anything else it takes out in its path.

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No one was injured in the debris flow.

“Our public works crew was very proactive and they got out there pretty much immediately with a snowplow and was using that to push the debris off the roadway so responders could go in and check on people,” Melford said.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), debris flow is water that can rush downhill with large amounts of ash, sand, silt, rocks and burned vegetation.

Melford said at one point there was at least nine feet of water.

State Representative David Cook, who has a cattle ranch in the area, was impacted by the fire, and now the flooding.

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“We have displaced cattle as does everybody at this time because the fences are burned up, and then of course all this flooding, all the water gaps are taken out,” said Cook.

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Cook said he’s working on drafting a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.

“I want it to go out to the forest service and the other agencies that are involved saying, here’s the problem, the federal government comes in to our area, they manage all this, all this chaos, all this destruction, then they leave, what is available for the typical property and homeowner that’s being devastated by these actions of the federal government, and whose responsible for them,” said Cook.

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Gila County officials say the first debris flow after a fire is the worst, but the burn area can continue to have flooding for at least five years.

To receive emergency notifications, Melford asks residents to sign up for emergency alert notifications by clicking here.