Hundreds Continue Search, Rescue After California Mudslides

Rains in Southern California send rivers of mud into homes, trigger fire

The fire destroyed 1,063 structures and damaged another 280 in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, particularly affecting the cities of Montecito and Carpinteria.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department previously reported that numerous people were trapped in their homes or cars by the mudslides.

Firefighters have rescued at least eight people in Montecito, and the "numbers are expected to go up significantly", Eliason said.

Weather forecasters had predicted some of the heaviest rain could fall in areas where the Thomas and Creek fires recently burned.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Thursday the priority now is finding survivors as families of the missing wait for word about their loved ones.

In Santa Barbara, county spokeswoman Amber Anderson told the LA Times that helicopters were being used because roads are blocked by downed trees and power lines.


"The number of confirmed deaths is 17, and the number of injured confirmed is 28".

Many Americans may still be buzzing about Oprah Winfrey's presidential prospects following her rousing speech at the Golden Globes, but the media mogul is focusing on a more immediate issue: flooding and mudslides in Southern California.

Rescue efforts are fully mobilized, he said, adding that there are now 683 rescue workers, up from 450 on Wednesday, involved in the disaster relief efforts. As of Tuesday morning, more than 20,000 people were placed under evacuation orders northwest of Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Times noted that rescue teams have been forced to use helicopters because many roads in the area are impassable. Hundreds of people have also lost their homes following the mudslides, which completely destroyed 100 houses and severely damaged up to 300 more.

The rainstorm has moved out of the California area, but the landscape is strewn with rocks, debris and was "covered shoulder-high in places with mud the consistency of wet cement", according to the Associated Press.

The upmarket neighbourhood includes homes owned by celebrities like actor Rob Lowe and chat show host Ellen DeGeneres.

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