Creek Fire: Winter weather may present more challenges for residents

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Winter in Shaver lake is synonymous with rainfall and fresh powder.

But the weather that draws tourism is exactly what county teams are bracing for as the Creek Fire's path of destruction could continue beyond when the flames are out.

Shaver lake resident Eric Tallberg built his home in 2002. He says that's the last time he saw heavy rain.

"We got a 5-inch rainfall and it didn't do anything at all, it just went into the ground," said Tallberg.

His house may have been spared from the Creek Fire, but there are more than 850 structures that were burned to their foundation, causing concern for the county water system.

Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig says, "When it starts to rain, some of these soils which are now unstable will of course form mudslides and a lot of that debris and material is going to end up in our waterways."

Water samples have been sent to the state, but residents are being warned to not consume the water until given clearance, a process that could take a few weeks.

When it comes to infrastructure, Magsig says the county is taking a proactive approach. Damage assessment teams spent Thursday identifying areas of critical need.

"We recognize the burn scar from this fire is very large. The fire is up to more than 330,000 acres covering Fresno and Madera counties," said Magsig.

In addition to the county's newly watershed management team, they are working to mitigate all potential hazards that could strike this already hard-hit community again.

Supervisor Magsig said, "We have culverts that run underneath our roadways and we want to make sure those culverts aren't blocked because if they become blocked, sections of our road can be washed out as well."

Many businesses we spoke with said the possible impact on winter tourism hadn't crossed their mind. Many are just trying to bounce back, taking the impacts of the Creek Fire one day at a time.
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