California mudslide: at least 13 killed after heavy rains lash Santa Barbara | US news

Published on January 10, 2018

At least 13 people were killed and homes were swept from their foundations on Tuesday as heavy rain sent mud and boulders sliding down hills stripped of vegetation by southern California’s recent wildfires.

Rescue crews used helicopters to lift people to safety because of blocked roads, and firefighters slogged through waist-high mud to pull a muck-covered 14-year-old girl out of the ruins of a home in Montecito, north-west of Los Angeles, where she had been trapped for hours. She was taken away on a stretcher.

Most deaths were believed to have occurred in Montecito, a wealthy enclave that is home to such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Rob Lowe and Ellen DeGeneres, said Santa Barbara County spokesman David Villalobos. At least 25 people were injured.

Emergency personnel carry a woman rescued from a collapsed house after a mudslide in Montecito.



Emergency personnel carry a woman rescued from a collapsed house after a mudslide in Montecito. Photograph: Reuters

Several houses were destroyed, and residents were unaccounted for in neighborhoods hard to reach because of downed trees and power lines, he said. The mud was reported to be up to 5ft (1.5 meters) deep in places.

The mud was unleashed in the dead of night by flash flooding in the steep, fire-scarred Santa Ynez Mountains. Burned-over zones are especially susceptible to destructive mudslides because scorched earth doesn’t absorb water well and the land is easily eroded when there are no shrubs.

“We’re performing multiple rescues. There will be more,” Zaniboni said, adding that some of those brought to safety were buried in mud. There was a backlog of scores of callers requesting help.

Sally Brooks said a “boulder slide” occurred outside her home in nearby Carpinteria in the dead of night. “We were laying in bed listening to the rain, and out of nowhere our bed just started shaking, and we could hear just this, like, thunder,” she told KTLA-TV.

Santa Barbara County firefighters work through the flood waters and debris.



Santa Barbara County firefighters work through the flood waters and debris. Photograph: Mike Eliason/EPA

Photos posted on social media showed upside-down cars along debris-clogged roads and mud waist-deep in living rooms. Forecasters said the maximum rainfall occurred in a 15-minute span starting at 3.30am near the Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria areas of Santa Barbara County.

Montecito got more than a half-inch in five minutes, while Carpinteria received 0.86 inches in 15 minutes.

Crews worked to clear debris from roads across the Los Angeles metropolitan area, including a key stretch of US 101 that was brought to a standstill along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Nearly 30 miles of the highway were shut down at one point.

The storm walloped much of the state with damaging winds and thunderstorms. Downtown San Francisco got a record 3.15in (8cm) of rain on Monday, smashing the old mark of 2.36in (6cm) set in 1872.

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