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Death toll rises to 13 in Montecito-area mudslides - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Death toll rises to 13 in Montecito-area mudslides

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This story has been updated. For Wednesday's updates, click here


UPDATE (4:05 p.m.) - Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown says 13 people have been killed in the mudslides in southern Santa Barbara County that resulted from a powerful overnight storm.

Sheriff Brown said that number is expected to increase as search efforts continue and some people remain unaccounted for. He said at least two dozen people are still missing.

Montecito Fire District Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Taylor explained at a Tuesday afternoon press conference that a catastrophic debris flow occurred at around 4 a.m. between Cold Springs and Toro Canyon and flowed all the way to Highway 101.

Emergency crews have performed 50 hoist rescues and several dozen rescues on the ground and they are working to evacuate 300 people trapped in Romero Canyon.

Approximately 500 firefighters from around the state are involved in the rescues.

Brown said 911 dispatchers received 600 calls for assistance between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

The area is now being considered a "rescue zone" and Brown said people who knowingly enter the area without permission will be violating the law and could face a misdemeanor charge.

The California Highway Patrol said Highway 101 through the area could be closed for 48 hours or longer as crews work to remove the mud and debris that flooded the highway.


UPDATE (3:53 p.m.) The Red Cross Evacuation Center at Santa Barbara City College has moved from the cafeteria to the Sports Pavilion/ Gymnasium, The Sports Pavillion can be accessed off Loma Alta Drive. Residents can call (805) 681-5542 or text (805) 699-0165 for storm information. 


UPDATE (1:56 p.m.) - Eight people have now been confirmed dead in the flash floods and mudslides in southern Santa Barbara County.

At least 25 people have been injured and 50 rescues have been performed, according to Santa Barbara County officials.

Red Cross offers resource to report missing people during disaster


UPDATE (12:45 p.m.) - Six people have now been confirmed dead in the flash floods and mudslides in southern Santa Barbara County.


UPDATE (10:35 a.m.) - Emergency officials are warning that another flash flood or debris flow could occur in the Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria areas today as more severe weather and heavy rain is predicted. Residents are urged to leave the area now and move to higher ground.


UPDATE (10:30 a.m.) - Rescue crews are using helicopters to lift people to safety in the Montecito area after an overnight rainstorm sent a flood of mud and debris through neighborhoods.

Several houses were destroyed and residents were unaccounted for in neighborhoods hard to reach because of downed trees and power lines, fire officials said.

"We're performing multiple rescues. There will be more," said Santa Barbara County Fire Department Capt. Dave Zaniboni, adding that some of those brought to safety were buried in mud. There was a backlog of callers requesting help.


UPDATE (9:15 a.m.) - Fire officials confirm that at least five people have died related to the overnight storm that caused mudslides and flash flooding in areas near the recent Thomas Fire burn area.

At least one body was found along the railroad tracks near Butterfly Beach.


UPDATE (8:10 a.m.) - Fire officials confirm to KSBY News that at least two people have died in the storm. 


Heavy overnight rains have damaged homes, prompted multiple rescues in the Montecito area, stranded drivers and closed Highway 101 from Highway 126 in Ventura to Milpas Street in Santa Barbara. 

By 7:30 a.m., thousands were without power throughout Santa Barbara County. Prior to that, there were reports of people trapped in vehicles along Hot Springs Road in Montecito. 

Shortly before 8:00 a.m., county officials said multiple people were driving the wrong way on Highway 101 and are calling road conditions "extremely dangerous." 


Firefighters rescued a woman from a debris pile along Hot Springs Road in Montecito early Tuesday morning. (SB Co. Fire photo)

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department confirmed to KSBY that homes in the Montecito area had been destroyed by mudslides overnight. 

While multiple rescues have taken place, there have been no reports of any injuries. 

30,000 now under evacuation warnings, orders in southern Santa Barbara County

Fire officials are urging everyone to stay off the roads in the Santa Barbara and Montecito areas and say anyone needing to head south from San Luis Obispo County should use highways 46 or 166 as detours. 

Residents in Montecito, Carpinteria and Summerland are also urged to stay off the roads, but are being told to stay home, shelter in place or get to higher ground.

Thousands lose power in Santa Barbara County

Additional crews have been called in, including those from CAL FIRE SLO and SLO City Fire. 

The U.S. Coast Guard is reportedly bringing in air support to assist with rescue efforts. 

In northern Santa Barbara County, mud and debris in the Alamo Fire burn area as closed Santa Maria Mesa Road from Foxen Canyon Road to Tepusquet Road. Tepusquet Road from Santa Maria Mesa Road to Highway 166 was also reportedly closed. 

Stay with KSBY and KSBY.com throughout the day for updates as they become available. 

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