It was announced on Friday that the body of a woman who went missing when mudslides ripped through her Southern California mountain community following heavy rains in a recently burned area had been discovered buried under a pile of rocks and other debris.
In two isolated communities in the San Bernardino Mountains, 3,000 people were impacted by mudslides that carried rocks, trees, and earth and washed away cars and buried homes late Monday night.
Doris Jagiello, 62, went missing in the devastation of Forest Falls, a once-popular vacation spot for cabin owners that has since become a bedroom community. Jagiello’s house was severely damaged when a debris flow containing mud and “extremely large boulders” barreled downhill and crashed into it.
On Thursday, the body of Jagiello was discovered in a muddy area. According to Lt. Jeff Allison of the Sheriff’s Office, her remains were discovered 20 to 30 feet (six to nine meters) away from her house in a debris-strewn area with rocks ranging in size from basketballs and boulders to the size of small cars.
While this was not the desired outcome, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement on Friday that they hoped finding Jagiello would help his family find closure and begin the healing process.
Even though one of her dogs was discovered alive inside the house, Allison still has two that have gone missing.
No one from the woman’s family has returned calls or texts seeking comment.
Oak Glen and Forest Falls’ devastating mudslide should serve as a stark reminder of the dangers that still lurk long after the smoke has cleared from a wildfire.
When fire has burned away the vegetation that once held the ground together on a hillside, even a short period of intense rainfall can have catastrophic effects. As of Monday, the nearby Yucaipa Ridge had received nearly 2 inches (5 centimeters) of precipitation.
Since the deadly El Dorado Fire began in the San Bernardino Mountains two years ago when a couple used a smoke device to find out the gender of their unborn child, mudslides have been a major concern for residents of those areas. Involuntary manslaughter charges were brought against the couple after the death of a firefighter.
After a fire swept down a steep mountainside in December 2017, it unleashed a torrent of mudslides in January 2018. More than 20 people were killed when slides hit the posh beach community of Montecito, not far from Santa Barbara. Montecito received slightly more than a half an inch (1.25 centimeters) in just five minutes during the heaviest downpour, which lasted for a total of 15 minutes.