Could Oregon experience mudslides like California?

The slide area in California was created after a wildfire burned off vegetation.

But it's a different situation with the Eagle Creek burn area in the Columbia River Gorge.

A major slide likely won't happen there for years, according to Portland State University geologist Scott Burns.

He says the hills in California had small trees with shallow roots. However, the gorge has larger trees with much deeper roots. Even though the trees burned away, their roots will stay intact for the next four or five years and help keep the slopes stable.

Scott Burns
Scott Burns

"We're for sure going to see some smaller debris flows...and some rock falls...but within the next couple of years, as the root systems disintegrate, we're going to see maybe some bigger ones," Burns said.

The geology professor points to the major 1996 landslides in the gorge. They happened five years after the 1991 wildfires that swept through that same area.

Photos: Eagle Creek Fire