California mudslides: At least 13 killed, thousands evacuated

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The walls of fast-moving mud and debris that tore through hillside communities before dawn on Tuesday took the lives of three children, at least one married couple and two people in their 80s, officials said in releasing the names of the dead.

"We were all exhausted of it", said Montecito resident David Cradduck, 66, who stayed.

At least 17 people have been killed in the mudslides and authorities are fearing that number could rise as responders search for more victims.

Hundreds of firefighters and others are still searching for survivors in the mud and wreckage.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department (SBCFD) said the bodies were discovered in mud and debris. Flooding and debris flow prompted the California Highway Patrol to shut down the northbound 101 Freeway at Route 126 in Ventura and at Seacliff, and the southbound 101 Freeway just south of Santa Barbara at Milpas.

With a burned vehicle in the foreground a worker finishes up erosion control efforts in the wildfire damaged Coffey Park neighborhood, Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Santa Rosa, Calif.

About 12 miles of northbound lanes between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara also remain closed.

"I send love to all the families and the awesome rescue workers braving these mudslides", she posted on Twitter.

Officials worked for days, even going door-to-door, to warn residents that the hillsides were ripe for unsafe mudflow after the fires destroyed the vegetation that could hold the soil in place, said Dennis Bozanich, deputy county executive officer for Santa Barbara County. But Ventura County escaped with little damage, the sheriff's office said.

Eight commercial properties were also destroyed and 20 were damaged.

At least 13 people were killed and homes were torn from their foundations Tuesday as downpours sent mud and boulders roaring down hills stripped of vegetation by a wildfire that raged in southern California last month. River of mud rushes down Montecito street as family scrambles for safety Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Anderson said the number of confirmed fatalities remains at 17.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for several areas of Santa Barbara County affected by recent wildfires - including the massive Thomas Fire - ahead of an impending storm expected to cause mudslides and flooding.

The number of missing persons has fluctuated since the disaster hit early Tuesday morning and had been as low as 16 on Wednesday evening. "It all has to be done on foot", said Deputy Dan Page, chief of a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department rescue team. At one spot, a auto appeared to be sheared in half - its front half pointed skyward, jammed against a pile of muddy wreckage.

County Fire Captain Dave Zaniboni said five people were found dead on Tuesday in Montecito, possibly as a result of the storm.

The family still loves Santa Barbara County, and will start reassessing whether to move back in the coming months. "Devastated", Winfrey said as she stood, surrounded by debris.

Destructive waves of mud sliding down barren hillsides in Southern California slammed everything in sight.

The search for additional possible victims is continuing. Four of the injured were reported in severely critical condition.

Those numbers could increase when the search is expanded Wednesday and search-and-rescue teams reach new areas.

Trashed areas were awash in a sea of mud, with only the tallest trees standing and some homes buried up to their roofs.