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Fast-Flowing Creek Puts Lake Elsinore Homes At Risk Of Collapse

LAKE ELSINORE (CBSLA) – A fast-flowing creek in Lake Elsinore destroyed several outbuildings and walls Thursday morning and left at least one home teetering on the edge of collapse as a torrential downpour in the Holy Fire burn area forced thousands of people to evacuate.

The home, located on Plumas Street in the Alvarado neighborhood, was in danger of losing its foundation after a flooding creek eroded away a good portion of the bank, putting the home in danger of collapse. Its residents were able to get out safely. The home was red-tagged and declared unlivable.

Teetering Lake Elsinore Home At Risk Of Collapse In Flooding Creek
A flooded creek in Lake Elsinore. Feb. 14, 2019. (CAL Fire Riverside)

"That white house across the river from me here, the flow of the river has undercut the bank," CAL Fire Riverside Capt. Don Camp said. "And we're in danger of possibly losing a portion of the structure to the flowing water. We were able to get those folks out of their house and we have secured all the utilities over there."

The creek, which normally flows at a trickle, swelled into a river. A man who lives close by told CBS2 he awoke Thursday to find that two outbuildings on same property as the at-risk home had fallen into the creek.

"I came out this morning and there was a fence all the way across there, and it's gone," neighbor Ken Sorenson said. "And then there were two big outbuildings, about 10-by-20, and they fell in the creek. And some lady was trying to get a bicycle out of one of them, and we're screaming, 'get out!' And she barely got out of there in time."

Meanwhile, sometime after 11 a.m., CBS2 captured footage of a brick wall on a neighboring property crashing into the river. There was no word of any injuries.

Lake Elsinore
A rushing creek brings down a wall in Lake Elsinore, Calif., during a storm. Feb. 14, 2019. (CBS2)

The overflowing creek also sent mud and debris into the backyards of several homes. Jo Maldonado, who lives near the red-tagged home, worries what even more rain will mean to her own property. Her gas has been disconnected and irrigation pipes were exposed.

"I've lost part of my land," she said. "I don't know what the county is going to do. Are they going to shave part of it back? I mean, it's not stable. I'm very frustrated right now."

A mandatory evacuation order for the following areas in and around Lake Elsinore was lifted Thursday night:

Amorose, Alberhill, Alvarado A, Glen Eden, Glen Ivy A and B, Grace, Horsethief A and B, Laguna A, Maitri, McVicker A, Rice and Withrow A.

Across Riverside County Thursday, there were approximately 40 water rescues. Cal Fire pulled two people to safety at Main Street near the Santa Ana River bottom. Another four were rescued at Market Street as well after it quickly flooded.

"This was the most powerful storm of the season," CAL Fire Riverside Capt. Don Camp said. "We received about eight inches of rain at Santiago Park, which is up canyon from us."

The 23,000-acre Holy Fire broke out in the Holy Jim Canyon area of Orange County on Aug. 6 and then marched east into Riverside County towards Lake Elsinore. It destroyed 18 homes in Orange and Riverside counties and forced thousands of people to flee.

Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, a resident of Holy Jim Canyon, has been arrested and charged with sparking the blaze.

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