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Evacuation orders issued for Thomas, Sherpa, Whittier fire burn areas as heavy rain approaches

Posted at 4:28 PM, Jan 14, 2019

Santa Barbara County officials have announced evacuation orders for the Thomas, Sherpa and Whittier fire burn areas due to a heavy storm system expected to reach the Central Coast on Tuesday.

Those orders go into effect at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, and apply to the “Debris Flow Risk Areas” identified in the county’s updated flood risk map. (Click the map below to open in a larger view.)

County officials have reportedly been working with the National Weather Service to track the storm and decide whether evacuations are necessary.

According to KSBY News Meteorologist Dave Hovde, the south coast of Santa Babara County could receive between one and three inches of rain as a result of the storm.

County officials are encouraging residents to pack up and leave the area before 10 a.m. They add that people living adjacent to the evacuation areas should be aware that they could become trapped if roads are damaged or impassable in the event of a significant debris flow.

A Red Cross Evacuation Center will be set up at Goleta Valley Community Center, located at 5679 Hollister Ave. in Goleta.

People needing assistance evacuating animals can call 805-681-4332. The Santa Barbara Humane Society can house cats and dogs, and Santa Barbara County Animal Services will take in other types of small animals. Large animals can be taken to the Earl Warren Showgrounds.

El Montecito Pre-School and Crane Country Day School will be closed on Tuesday, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Montecito Union School, and Laguna Blanca Lower School will conduct classes at alternate sites.

1 year later: Remembering the Montecito mudslide

One year ago, on Jan. 9, 2018, a heavy storm triggered a massive mudslide that damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes in the Montecito area and took the lives of 23 people. It happened about a month after the Thomas Fire, which burned in the mountains above the community.

For additional emergency information and to sign up for Aware and Prepare Alerts, visit Those needing other evacuation assistance can call the county’s emergency call center at 833-688-5551.

Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue team members notify Montecito residents of evacuations in 2018. (KSBY photo)