Sonoma County property owners in burn areas urged to prepare for flash floods, debris flows

Buildings burn along Highway 12 from the Shady Fire as it approaches Santa Rosa, California on September 28, 2020. - The wildfire quickly spread over the mountains and reached Santa Rosa where is has begun to affect homes. (Photo by Samuel Corum / Ag

Officials in Sonoma County are urging property owners in areas impacted by recent wildfires to prepare for rain because many properties within and downstream of any burn area are at higher risk for flash floods, rock falls, debris flows, and mud flows.

In a Friday statement, officials said that property owners are responsible for preventing pollutants, including sediment, from entering storm drains, creeks, rivers and wetlands, and recommended steps including:

Installing erosion control measures such as straw wattles and gravel bags; removing debris near creeks, storms and drainage-ways; and making sure that gutters, catch basins, storm inlets, culverts, or swales are functioning and clear of leaves, sticks, or other debris.

Potential hazards during rains include flash flooding and flows of mud, debris and ash that are picked in flood waters. Normally, rainfall is absorbed by vegetation and soils, reducing runoff. However, wildfires remove vegetation and may leave soil unable to absorb water, creating potential flash flood conditions. Such risks can remain for up to five years after a wildfire, until vegetation is restored or replaced, county officials said.

Residents are also urged to have "go bags" at the ready containing important possessions, similar to those recommended for potential fire-related evacuations. Two evacuation routes are also recommended. For tips and more information, Santa Rosa residents can visit

Fore more information and resources related to erosion control, Santa Rosa residents should call 707-543-4649 or go to:; resident of unincorporated Sonoma County can go to