Rain in wildfire-scarred California could cause flooding, mudflows

First, the good news: Heavy rain expected this week won’t just drench Northern California’s Camp Fire. It could also snuff out the risk of new wildfires for the rest of the year.

Now the bad news: Flash flooding, mudslides and rivers of debris could hit cities already devastated by the wildfire.

A flash flood watch is in effect Wednesday through Friday for the Camp Fire area, where 3 to 6 inches of rain are expected.

The rain will end “fire concerns for the winter,” said Robert Baruffaldi, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service’s Sacramento office.

But it could also make conditions treacherous for firefighters battling the Camp Fire, which has charred more than 152,250 acres and was only 75% contained as of Tuesday.

The inferno has already killed 81 people and destroyed 12,900 homes. And with hundreds of residents still unaccounted for, authorities fear the death toll could rise. Statewide, 84 people have died in the Camp Fire and the Woolsey Fire burning west of Los Angeles.

Rain could impede the search for victims

Authorities are scrambling to find 870 people who are unaccounted for in Butte County. That number keeps fluctuating as more residents are found.

But with heavy rain on the way, searchers feel a greater sense of urgency in finding the remains of Camp Fire victims.

“What we’re looking at here is potentially remains, or cremains — it’s kind of a cremated remains state,” said Brian Ferreira, rescue squad officer for