Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

California mudslides kill at least 13 in region scorched by wildfires

Oprah Winfrey's property in Santa Barbara, Calif., is one of the many homes damaged by deadly mudslides and flash floods in the area.

But the wooded hillsides that once gave their estates a sense of seclusion were largely denuded by last year's historic wildfires, setting the stage for the massive slides that slammed into homes, turned highways into raging rivers and swept away vehicles after heavy Tuesday rains. After a better look at the damage, officials lowered the number of destroyed homes from 100 to 64 and raised the number of damaged ones from 300 to 462.

"The sheriff's office can confirm 15 fatalities but is not able to provide additional details at this time", a spokesman for the county department said on its Twitter feed.

Pitney said many rescues were still happening Wednesday and Thursday, but most if not all were of people who were safe but just wanted to get out of the area. Earlier in the day, officials put the number of missing at just eight. "Firefighters successfully rescued a 14-yr-old girl after she was trapped for hours inside a destroyed home in Montecito", it added. Brown apologized for the inconvenience, but he called the area "a very active rescue and recovery and fix zone right now".

USA 101 Freeway at the Olive Mill Road overpass flooded with runoff water from Montecito Creek and blocked with mudflow and debris following heavy rains in Montecito, Calif., Jan. 9, 2018.

"There are no customers", said Pierre Henry, owner of the Bree'osh Bakery Cafe Montecito, several blocks from the spot where a large mudslide crossed Coast Village Road as it moved toward the ocean.

Emergency officials set up a Family Assistance Center at the First Presbyterian Church, 21 E. Constance Santa Barbara. "Although we knew this was coming, you couldn't help but be amazed at the intensity of the storm and the result of the mudslide and the water that cascaded down the hills". "It was literally a carpet of mud and debris everywhere", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told media, describing a landscape littered with boulders, mangled cars and downed powerlines.

Residents who spent much of last month being urged to stay off roads and warned of potential evacuation orders faced the same outcomes from a different cause.

Other famous residents of Montecito include Rob Lowe and Ellen DeGeneres. One piece of video from Tuesday shows a auto being carried along a curvy, downward-sloping street, engulfed by mud on all sides.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News.

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