A fire official says five people have been killed by mudslides that swept Southern California homes from their foundations as a powerful storm drenched recent wildfire burn areas.
Santa Barbara County Fire Department Capt. Dave Zaniboni says the bodies were found in mud and debris during rescue operations Tuesday in Montecito northwest of Los Angeles.
Heavy rains were triggering dangerous flooding Tuesday morning in Southern California, with rivers of mud and debris destroying at least three homes and pooling water forcing police to close parts of the coastal US Route 101, officials said.
Near the coastal community of Montecito, at least three homes have been “wiped away by mudflow and debris,” and emergency workers were scrambling to rescue people from vehicles and buildings, Santa Barbara County fire spokesman Mike Eliason said.
The heavy rain was falling in areas charred by recent wildfires, triggering fears of flash flooding and mudslides because vegetation that otherwise would hold hills together and make the terrain flood-resistant have burned away.
Thousands of people in Southern California were under evacuation orders because of flooding and mudslide fears, including in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
Flooding near La Conchita has prompted the closure of parts of U.S. Route 101 in Ventura County, the sheriff’s office there said Tuesday morning.
Girl rescued from California mudslide
Firefighters have rescued a 14-year-old girl from the rubble of a home devastated by a mudslide in the Montecito area of Southern California after a powerful storm hit an area ravaged by a December wildfire.
Santa Barbara County authorities say there have been five confirmed fatalities as of Tuesday morning and there is a backlog of 75 calls for rescue or evacuation from the area.
House is ‘surrounded by mud’
In Montecito, a community of about 8,000 people east of Santa Barbara, Ben Hyatt told CNN on Tuesday morning that a river of mud had crashed through a neighbor’s house.
“Apparently one of their cars ended in their back yard. We have neighbors at (the) top of street that evacuated to their roof,” Hyatt said.
His own house was “surrounded by mud,” and a washing machine had drifted into his front yard,…