Dramatic Rescues in Montecito Mudslides as Multiple Deaths Confirmed

Montecito mudslides (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department via Associated Press)
Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department via Associated Press
JOEL B. POLLAK

Five residents were confirmed dead in mudslides in the city of Montecito in Santa Barbara County, California, on Tuesday as firefighters staged dramatic rescues, extricating people from homes that had been filled with mud.

Local officials said that thirteen people had been killed and dozens injured..

The Los Angeles Times reported earlier:

At least five people were killed Tuesday when a rainstorm sent mud and debris coursing through Montecito neighborhoods and left rescue crews to scramble through clogged roadways and downed trees to search for victims.

The deluge that washed over Santa Barbara County early Tuesday was the worst-case scenario for a community that was ravaged by the Thomas fire only a few weeks earlier. In just a matter of minutes, pounding rain overwhelmed the south-facing slopes above Montecito and flooded a creek that leads to the ocean, sending mud and massive boulders rolling into residential neighborhoods, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason.

Firefighters used the jaws of life to cut their way into the home where a firefighter heard muffled cries for help from a 14-year-old girl, Eliason said.

A rescue dog pinpointed the girl’s location and two hours later, the mud-covered girl was pulled free. A second 14-year-old girl was also rescued from the same neighborhood and carried from ankle-high mud in a basket by half a dozen firefighters.

Other homes were carried off their foundations and destroyed.

Residents had been warned to evacuate from some areas on Monday. But when mudslides struck in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, they also hit areas that had not been subject to mandatory evacuation orders, the Times notes.

Santa Barbara County declared an emergency, according to the Santa Barbara News-Press.

This story has been updated to reflect the latest death toll.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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