IDYLLWILD, Calif. -

Caltrans is already preparing for winter storms in light of damage caused by recent local fires, the agency reported today.

Caltrans workers have started examining the regions burned this summer by the Silver, Mountain and Falls fires and identified areas most likely to affect highways 74 and 243. Winter storms can cause erosion, mudslides and debris flow on the slopes above the highways that gets into culverts and drains along the roads, according to Caltrans.

``Management concerns, after the recent fires in District 8, include consideration of the potential damage to the state highway system from rain storms until the re-growth of the adjacent vegetation,'' said Steve Pusey, deputy director of maintenance for Caltrans' District 8.

``Significant fire events in mountainous areas have long-term ramifications to mountain roads and, as a result, District 8 is already preparing for the coming winter,'' he said.

Crews are removing debris and fallen trees along affected routes, and additional personnel will be assigned to stations responsible for the highways in burn areas. They will work around the clock during storms, according to Caltrans.

``They will monitor slope activity, clean drains and, when necessary, utilize heavy equipment to clear the roadways,'' according to a Caltrans statement.

For updates on local roads, go to www.caltrans8.info.