No further information immediately available.
Published Wednesday, January 10, 2018
At least five people were killed Tuesday after a powerful winter storm drenching Southern California sent mud and debris streaming down wildfire-scarred hillsides and into several neighborhoods, some of which house lavish celebrity homes.
The deaths were reported in the Montecito and Carpinteria areas northwest of Los Angeles, which were severely hit by flooding and a debris flow, Amber Anderson with the Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Services confirmed to Fox News.
The Coast Guard said it is providing three to four air ships for rescue operations, but will not conduct air rescue missions if there are drones in the area.
There have been multiple rescues throughout the day in Montecito, known for its star power, as the enclave boasts the mansions of Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and several other celebrities.
Mike Eliason, a public information officer with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, said the heavy rains triggered "massive runoff".
"Heavy rains have triggered massive runoff in the Montecito area," Eliason wrote on Twitter. "Multiple rescues from vehicles and structures are underway. Access is difficult/delayed due to - at some locations - waist deep mudflow, trees, and wires down.
Avoid the area." The Santa Barbara Fire Department told KEYT-TV at least three homes have been destroyed by a mud and debris slide in the area of Hot Springs Road.
One man was also rescued from mud that was up to his neck, Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Dave Zaniboni told KEYT. Greg Villeneuve, who is staying at the Montecito Inn in Santa Barbara while in the area on business, told Fox News on Tuesday the skies have cleared up but mangled cars, tress, and branches are littering the area.
"I've been coming to Santa Barbara for 17 years and I've never seen anything like this," he said.
Villeneuve said the 101 Freeway located near the hotel is flooded with several feet of water, and the National Guard has showed up in trucks to assist first responders.
There are rescues currently underway in Montecito, Carpinteria and in neighboring Ventura County, Anderson told Fox News.
A gas leak caused a structure to catch fire above Montecito, but is still unknown if anyone was injured in that blaze, according to Anderson.
Zaniboni told KEYT that "multiple" homes were destroyed and residents are unaccounted for in neighborhoods below hillsides scarred by recent fires.
The television station also showed a body being loaded into a military-style truck on a mud-covered street.
Firefighters in Montecito were able to rescue a 14 year-old-girl after she was trapped for hours inside a destroyed home, according to Eliason.
The California Highway Patrol said US 101 northbound and southbound were closed due to flooding and debris flows in the Thomas Fire burn area, located north of Ventura and south of Santa Barbara, and several freeways and highways were also closed in Ventura and Los Angeles Countirse due to mudslides.