ALPINE, Utah (ABC 4 News) – The chance of a debris flow into homes below the Quail Fire burn scar in Alpine is high.
At least a half inch of rain in less than an hour would threaten homes with a mud slide. Here’s the problem; it’s normal for Alpine to get a half inch of rain in less than one hour at least once a year and it will take at least three years for trees and plants to fortify the mountain from the threat of mass erosion.
Neighbors living below the charred mountain look up at the loose soil hanging precariously above as they comprehend the odds against their favor. They’re prepared to evacuate with only a moments notice.
“We have five days of clothes packed and our computers hard drives and chargers,” said Charlie Knadler.
He never expected to have this kind of constant threat literally hanging over his home.
Alpine City constructed rock dams in areas vulnerable to debris flows and set up three sets of jersey barriers in a low area near Box Elder Trail and Box Elder Drive, but they are no guarantee of safety for the homes below.
A slow race is taking place between the possibility of a downpour strong enough to produce a mudslide and the growth of trees and vegetation able to fortify the mountain from erosion. Again, the odds are overwhelmingly in the favor of a mudslide.
“I’m fatalistic. You know as Peggy Lee said, ‘Que Sera Sera what will be will be,” says Knadler as he laughs.
Another neighbor named Douglas Parrish says, “I’m assuming that City has to have some kind of longer term plan and in my discussions with the mayor he’s indicated to the fact that that there are some things being worked on.”
Alpine's mayor says he is developing a long term plan to protect homes below the Quail Fire burn scar.