At least 13 people were killed Tuesday after a powerful winter storm drenching Southern California sent mud, rocks and debris plummeting down wildfire-scarred hillsides and into several neighborhoods, some of which house lavish celebrity homes.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown confirmed the deaths at a news conference Tuesday, in which he said the affected areas of the state «looked like a World War I battlefield.»
More people are believed to be dead, and at least 25 people were injured and others unaccounted for.
Multiple rescues were underway in Montecito due to flood waters and debris flows.
(Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County FD)
Rescues have unfolded throughout the day in Montecito, an enclave that includes the mansions of Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and several other celebrities.
Mike Eliason, a public information officer with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, said the heavy rains triggered «massive runoff.»
He tweeted, «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.»
Debris from a swollen creek blocks Via Real in Carpinteria, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)
Debris from a swollen creek blocks Via Real in Carpinteria, California. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)
The Santa Barbara Fire Department told KEYT-TV at least three homes have been destroyed by a mud and debris slide in the area of Hot Springs Road. One man was also rescued from mud that was up to his neck, Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Dave Zaniboni told the news station.
Greg Villeneuve, who is staying at the Montecito Inn in Santa Barbara while in the area on business, told Fox News on Tuesday the skies have cleared up but mangled cars, trees, and branches are littering the area.
«I’ve been coming to Santa Barbara for 17 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,» he said.