At least 8 people dead after mudslides hit fire-ravaged California community

Posted January 11, 2018

- Heavy rain falling in parts of Southern California Tuesday morning wreaked havoc in Santa Barbara County and especially in Montecito where some homes slid off their foundations, twenty people were injured, at least 15 people were killed and an unknown amount are still missing.

Officials are warning that the death toll is likely to rise.

First responders on Tuesday were plucking people from vehicles trapped in unsafe flooding and debris triggered by heavy overnight rainfall in California.

Flash flooding and risky mudslides have swiftly become dangers, and residents are once again being forced to evacuate from their communities.

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Authorities have said that "dozens" of people are missing following the storm.

A 14-year-old girl was also rescued from the mud after being trapped for hours.

Some undamaged businesses closed as they lacked water, gas and other supplies to operate.

"I think most people are really shocked at the extent of the damage and how big the impact was to the area", he said. "We are quite lucky".

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In Montecito, Oprah Winfrey shared Instagram photos of the deep mud in her backyard and rescue helicopters flying overhead.

In Montecito, firefighters rescued two men and a woman from flood debris. Montecito got more than a half-inch in five minutes, while Carpinteria received 0.86 inches in 15 minutes.

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.

"The house in back is gone", she could be heard saying as she inspected the damage.

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The number of fatalities surpassed the death toll from a California mudslide on January 10, 2005, when 10 people were killed as a hillside gave way in the town of La Conchita, less than 20 miles (30 km) south of the latest disaster. The fires burned away grass and shrubs that held the soil in place and also baked a waxy layer into the earth that prevents water from sinking deeply into the ground.