At least 13 dead as heavy rains trigger mudslides in Southern California

A car stuck in mud.
(Image credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

At least 13 people in Montecito, California, were killed on Tuesday when mudslides swept through neighborhoods south of the Thomas Fire burn area.

The Thomas Fire devastated Montecito late last year, and mud and debris rolling into residential neighborhoods was "the worst-case scenario," Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said. Heavy rain at 2:30 a.m. caused "waist-high" mud flows, a sheriff's official said, and at least 25 people were injured.

Officials are still searching for survivors, and they don't know how many houses were damaged because they are unable to get to some areas due to rivers of mud. Firefighters rescued one 14-year-old girl after hearing her cries for help; it took two hours for a search and rescue dog to determine where she was, and firefighters had to use the jaws of life to pull her from the mud. The mud lifted several houses off of their foundations, and in one case, a boy was swept away at least half a mile from his home. He was found alive under a freeway overpass, but his father remains missing, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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