PORTLAND, OR (KPTV)- Following Oregon’s historic wildfire season in 2020, there is an increased risk for possible landslides in burn areas.

“We are absolutely concerned about these recent wildfires that we’ve had in Oregon over the last several years plus the ones we had just this past year,” Bill Burns, an engineering geologist at the Oregon Department of Geology, said.

Burns said the type of landslide they’re most worried about is called channelized debris flows.

“These can start quite a long ways away from where they’re going in some cases several miles, and they can move very rapidly and in some cases tens of miles per hour and because of all that life safety is a concern,” he said.

Heavy rains lead to increase risk of possible landslides in burn areas

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Burns said landslides are unpredictable and wants everyone who lives in or near these areas to be on alert and keep a close eye on the weather.

“People need to be a little bit more aware of that and actually decide for themselves whether they should evacuate or not,” he advised.

Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Cracks in soil
  • Tilted or bent trees
  • Increased spring activity or newly wet ground
  • Hummocky or uneven terrain
  • Sagging or taut utility lines
  • Sunken or broken roadbeds
  • Movement of soil away from foundations
  • Leaking or broken water pipes

“What happens is it’s just too much water for the landscape to absorb, and then we start seeing landslides,” he said.

If you suspect a landslide, evacuate and call 911. 

The Oregon Department of Geology also has a helpful tool on its website that lets you look up how susceptible your neighborhood is to landslides. 

Copyright 2021 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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