Homes were swept away and people needed dramatic rescue in Montecito, California on January 9, 2018 as the result of major mudslides. You can see photos and videos from the scene throughout this story. A gas line explosion added fire to the dangers.
Terrifying stories spread on social media. “Parent in #Montecito just called 911 to report they are trapped atop kitchen counter with two children as water rises,” wrote Fox11’s Gigi Graciette.
“The heavy rain was falling in areas charred by recent wildfires, triggering fears of flash flooding and mudslides because vegetation that otherwise would hold hills together and make the terrain flood-resistant have burned away,” KTLA-TV reported. The television statement reported that at least three homes were swept away.
One man, Benjamin Hyatt, wrote on Twitter, “Flash flood / massive amounts of mud swept thru #montecito oaks neighborhood. Mud buckling doors trying to get in house. People on roofs. Power out. Power lines down all over #mudslide.”
As if it couldn’t get worse, a gas line explosion then caused fires in the area.
Witnesses described people evacuating to their rooftops, according to KTLA. The Los Angeles Times reported evacuations throughout Southern California as the bad weather raged.
“Vast swaths of Southern California were ordered Monday to evacuate — for the second time in as many months — as a powerful rainstorm released a deluge onto fire-ravaged slopes, triggering stern warnings from authorities about mudslides, flash floods and debris flows,” The Times reported. The area was already heavily damaged by severe wildfires.
Multiple rescues were underway in the Montecito area, NBC Los Angeles said. The reports on social media were terrifying.
“The mud flow prompted the closure of the 101 Freeway with California Highway Patrol redirecting drivers to the Seacliff exit. All major roads connected to the 101 Freeway were also closed as a result of the mud,” the television station reported.
Santa Barbara County Fire spokesman Mike Eliason wrote on Twitter, “#CAstorm-Heavy rains have triggered massive runoff in the Montecito area. 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.”
CNN reported that three homes were wiped out. With one dramatic photo, Eliason wrote, “FF’s tend to a woman on Hot Springs Road while waiting for an ambulance. The woman was pulled by FF’s from a debris pile in Montecito caused by heavy rain runoff.”
He also posted photos of other rescues, writing, “#CAstorm- Santa Barbara county FF’s rescue two men and a woman from flood water/debris flow of Hot Springs Rd. in Montecito. Multiple rescues are underway throughout the area.”
The mud reached people’s waists in some areas, fire officials reported. “Heavy rains have triggered massive runoff in the Montecito area. 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,” wrote Eliason.
“Heavy rain has caused “waist-high” mud flows in Montecito, and fire crews have received a number of missing-person reports, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department,” Brian Park, the digital editor for the Los Angeles Times, wrote on Twitter.