LOS ANGELES (AP) – At least five people were killed and homes were swept from their foundations Tuesday as heavy rain sent mud and rocks sliding down hills stripped of vegetation by Southern California’s recent wildfires.
Rescue crews used helicopters to lift people to safety because of blocked roads, and firefighters slogged through waist-high muck to pull a muddy 14-year-old girl out of the rubble of a home in Montecito, in Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles. She was taken away on a stretcher.
Five bodies were found in and around Montecito, Santa Barbara County Fire Department Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.
Several houses were destroyed, and residents were unaccounted for in neighborhoods hard to reach because of downed trees and power lines, he said.
“We’re performing multiple rescues. There will be more,” Zaniboni said, adding that some of those brought to safety were buried in mud. There was a backlog of scores of callers requesting help.
Crews worked to clear debris from roads across the Los Angeles metropolitan area, including a key stretch of U.S. 101 that was brought to a standstill along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for about 700 homes in sections of Los Angeles County that burned last month in the biggest wildfire on record in California.
The mudslides were set off by a storm that walloped much of the state with damaging winds and thunderstorms. Downtown San Francisco had a record 3.15 inches (8 centimeters) of rain on Monday, smashing the old mark of 2.36 inches (6 centimeters) set in 1872.