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Western N.C. now vulnerable to mudslides after wildfires burn away protection

The rain we've been wanting for so long might cause problems in areas where the fires have left scorched earth behind: Now there's the potential for mudslides. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The rain we've been wanting for so long might cause problems in areas where the fires have left scorched earth behind: Now there's the potential for mudslides.

Flames burn small trees, bushes and other vegetation which normally keep steep slopes solid, and hold them in place.

Wildfires strip the soil of that protection, and heavy rain can quickly turn dirt into unstable mud.

At the latest community meeting for the Clear Creek Fire, residents heard from a specialist who counts on local knowledge to help plan for what could be the next possible threat to the mountains.

"What I'm doing on a day-to-day basis is driving around, gathering intel on the terrain, what kind of local effects are going on, talking to everyone around here who lives in this type of weather, to find out what really happens when rain is forecast," said Kurt Vanspaybrook of the National Weather Service.

Crews will then use that information to decide which areas need erosion control to prevent mudslides from damaging homes once threatened by fire.

The Clear Creek Fire is 40 percent contained at 3100 acres.

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