The death toll from mudslides that swept through several Montecito, California, neighborhoods rose to 17 on Wednesday, with authorities saying children are among the deceased.
The mudslides were caused by heavy rain Tuesday morning that caused boulders and debris to flow from hillsides that were burned during last month's Thomas Fire. Authorities say 100 homes and eight commercial properties have been destroyed, and at least 300 houses have been damaged. In the Romero Canyon neighborhood, authorities believe there are 300 people trapped in their homes who aren't injured but can't leave because the roads are not accessible; helicopters are being used to rescue the residents.
At least 28 people are injured and authorities say 24 are missing, and they expect the death toll to rise again. Some of the homes were lifted off their foundations by the mud and carried nearly a mile before collapsing; Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown described the scene as looking like "a World War I battlefield." Catherine Garcia
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.Catherine Garcia