Death Toll Climbs to 15 in Southern California Mudslides


"Recent burn areas will be especially vulnerable where unsafe mud and debris flows are possible", the National Weather Service said in a statement.

It's unclear how many people would have heeded an emergency evacuation order had it been issued before the devastation in Montecito started, officials said. (Ventura County Sheriff's Office via AP) In this photo provided by Santa Barbara County Fire Department, the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad through Montecito, blocked with mudflow and debris.

Crews are working to clear debris from roads across greater Los Angeles, including a 30 mile stretch of USA 101 that was shut down along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Teams rescued three people, but they also discovered two more bodies, raising the death count, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.

Firefighters have rescued at least eight people in Montecito, and the "numbers are expected to go up significantly", Eliason said.

Just weeks ago, the rain was desperately needed as wildfires ravaged millions of acres across California.

Parts of the busy USA 101 freeway that connects Santa Barbara with Ventura remained closed Wednesday due to debris and mud left by overflows from Montecito Creek. Burned landscapes are less capable of absorbing water, making them more susceptible to flooding and mudslides.

Firefighters in Montecito, Calif., managed to rescue a young woman who was trapped for several hours in the debris of a home destroyed by mudslides in the Santa Barbara County community on Tuesday.

Santa Barbara County initially ordered 7,000 residents to evacuate and urged 23,000 to do so voluntarily, but only 10 to 15 percent complied, County spokeswoman Amber Anderson said Wednesday. The mud was reported to be up to 5ft deep in places.

A torrential rainstorm following record wildfires had triggered the mudslides that struck the Southern California, a wealthy enclave of about 9000 people northwest of Los Angeles that is home to such celebrities as Winfrey, Rob Lowe and Ellen DeGeneres.