Southern California sees deadly mudslides in areas hit by wildfires

by Abel Hampton January 11, 2018, 0:28
Southern California sees deadly mudslides in areas hit by wildfires

Some of the homes worst affected weren't within an evacuation zone set up by police.

The wildfires were the biggest in California's history, which along with a drought that lasted several years until these rains, is ensuring a chain of catastrophic environmental events feed into each other, worsening the effects.

The combination of the Thomas Fire and heavy rainfall caused massive mudslides and flooding that were strong enough to knock homes off foundations and push boulders into roadways.

First responders on Tuesday were plucking people from vehicles trapped in unsafe flooding and debris triggered by heavy overnight rainfall in California. Fire officials said there was 50 air-hoist rescues, and dozens upon dozens of ground rescues.

The county initially ordered 7,000 residents to evacuate and urged another 23,000 to do so voluntarily, but only 10 to 15 percent complied with mandatory orders, said Amber Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Winfrey posted a video on Instagram showing her wading through almost knee-deep mud on her Montecito property.

Heavy downpours in communities along the USA state's scenic coastline sent mud, boulders and tons of debris rolling down hills - destroying dozens of homes, demolishing cars and toppling trees.

These before and after images show the extent of the damage in Montecito.

She posted another video to Instagram on Wednesday showing damage to her home's back yard.

Most of the devastation has occurred in and around Montecito, a wealthy enclave of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles that is home to such celebrities as Winfrey, Rob Lowe and Ellen DeGeneres. This is the 101 freeway in my neighborhood right now.

DeGeneres also wrote on Twitter, "I've love being part of the Montecito community".

The death toll in weather-related incidents in Santa Barbara County has risen to 15 early Wednesday, after a storm led to unsafe mudflows in the Thomas Fire burn area.


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