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Winter's First Big Storm Hits : Weather: Almost an inch of rain fell, making a mess of freeways. Much more moisture is needed to cure the drought.

January 14, 1990|JAMES M. GOMEZ and FRANK MESSINA | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Travis said that at 12:25 p.m., she was busy taking notes on a two-car collision on the Orange Freeway near the Yorba Linda Boulevard off-ramp, when she looked up to see a three-car accident on the crowded freeway in front of her. She had to unravel the cause of a chain-reaction accident that resulted in minor damage to 20 cars near Chapman Avenue earlier in the day.

"It was heavy rainfall that did it," Travis said.

Meanwhile, CHP Officer Robert Mendenhall said that he was kept busy with two pileups near the confluence of the San Diego and Santa Ana freeways.

In one morning accident, four cars slammed into each other, causing slowdowns but no injuries. While a tow truck was pulling one of the wrecked cars off the shoulder of the road on the Santa Ana Freeway near the Alton Parkway off-ramp, a car in the fast lane lost control and skidded into the tow truck, banked off the freeway and landed upside down. Two people received moderate injuries.

Moments later on the same freeway, a suspected drunk driver caused a four-car pileup when he sideswiped two cars, one of which spun around and hit another car. The driver of the first car sped away from the accident and was arrested a short time later at Alton Parkway.

"Drinking and rain sure don't mix," Mendenhall said.

Elsewhere in the Southland, a rock and mud slide on San Francisquito Canyon Road in the unincorporated Green Valley area near Lancaster temporarily trapped at least three drivers and forced dozens of others to turn back, but no one was injured, Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Jim Billesbach said.

About three miles of the two-lane road remained closed Saturday afternoon while county crews worked to clean up debris.

Authorities said the slide was discovered by county fire crews on their way to another slide and flooding near homes at Calle Maleza in Green Valley. Inmate crews from a nearby detention camp stacked sandbags around homes to protect them from the surging mud, but for one homeowner near Calle Maleza, firefighters arrived too late: four feet of mud and water had already swept across his floors.

Nearby hillsides in both slide areas had been laid bare by a brush fire last summer.

RUNNING FOR HELP

The rain couldn't stop a benefit run for homeless children in Irvine. B4

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