Emergency responders began planning for a significant weather event the day after Christmas, county officials said Tuesday night.
This is the timeline for preparations that were put in place following the Thomas Fire:
Fire departments, the U.S. Forest Service, and CAL FIRE burn area specialists met to talk about the flood plains and burn scar in proximity to nearby communities and came up with a threat map for those areas.
Once they developed those threats, Kevin Taylor, incident commander for Montecito Fire, says they developed a concept of operations involving the local fire departments, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, the flood control district and the Office of Emergency Management.
The plan would map out what resources were available and how they would deploy them when needed. Following the meeting on Dec. 26, those officials were sent to provide training to their respective departments.
Those agencies learned about the storm in early January and began to consult the concept of operations plan.
As a result, Taylor says a press conference was held on Jan. 5 in Carpinteria, to prepare residents who could be impacted. Letters and phone calls were also sent to those residents emergency officials thought were in the "area of the threat."
Evacuations were issued then Sunday night, Jan. 7, to go into effect on Monday, Jan. 8 at noon.
"At about 4 that morning (sic) one of our prepositioned resources reported a gas explosion and several structures on fire that apparently were caused by one of the debris flows," Taylor said. "This resulted by the rain falls rate of greater than half an inch in five minutes."
Since then, those resources in the plan, and more, were deployed for hundreds of rescues that morning.