Burned underground storm drain pipe, a result of the Glass Fire, was discovered by staff in the Skyhawk Open Space area on Monday, Jan. 4. The damaged pipe is located directly under portions of unpaved walking trails accessed off Fawn Drive south of Skyhawk Creek. City staff will be making further evaluations this week to determine the extent of the damage.
As a result of this discovery, the City is urging residents to please adhere to the many closure signs and barricades that have been installed in the Skyhawk Open Space area since October 2020. Recovery efforts are not yet complete in this Open Space area, and this latest hazard – which was made visible only after Monday’s heavy rain event – is an example of why the Skyhawk Open Space is not yet safe for public access.
After the Glass Fire and based on similar circumstances following the October 2017 wildfires, City staff launched assessments of storm drainage infrastructure throughout Santa Rosa’s burn scar. A separate,150-foot section of city-owned storm drain pipe was previously identified in the southern Skyhawk Open Space area prior to Monday’s discovery of additional pipe damage. In locations where this damage occurred, the underground storm drain systems were constructed with High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pipes – a type of plastic. During the wildfire, sections of the plastic pipes caught fire and were destroyed or melted. This has resulted in underground voids and cavities that could cause injury if the unstable surface area is stepped on.
The City is making plans for repairs to the destroyed storm drain pipes as well as other fire-damaged areas presenting safety concerns in the Open Space. In the meantime, snow fencing is being installed at access points to Skyhawk Open Space today (Jan. 5) to further secure the area and keep the community safe.
As in the case of the latest discovery, there is the possibility that not all damaged storm drain pipe has yet been discovered in the Skyhawk Open Space and may not be until more rain reveals the underground damage. Therefore, during the upcoming forecasted rains and throughout the winter season, City staff will be out in the field to continue monitoring the known destroyed storm drain infrastructure areas and to look out for any additional spots of concern. Residents should remain out of the Skyhawk Open Space area until the City determines it is safe to officially reopen.