Firefighters rescue 14-year-old girl from California home destroyed by mudslides

Erika Holt
January 13, 2018

A storm that slammed into California coastal community is over.

Authorities hadn't confirmed the names of the dead, but county fire spokesman Mike Eliason said children are among the victims.

The mudslide toppled trees and demolished cars and covered blocks of quiet residential neighbourhoods with a thick layer of mud, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a news conference.

At least 25 people were injured and several more are unaccounted for after the flash floods hit areas which were ravaged by the largest wildfire in California's history in December.

Authorities say at least 100 homes have been destroyed.

Rescuers spent Tuesday climbing on rooftops and using search dogs to try and locate those trapped. This type of soil can not absorb water as easily, making the region more vulnerable to mudslides during heavy rains-such as the ones that dumped five inches of rain on parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties this week.

Most of the deaths occurred in and around Montecito, a wealthy enclave of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles, as homes were wiped away by mudflows after devastating wildfires left charred hillsides without vegetation cover to hold the deluge.

Winfrey's home survived the mudslides.

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"What a day!" Winfrey said.

Oprah lives on a 65-acre estate in Santa Barbara.

A mud-caked 14-year-old girl was among the dozens rescued on the ground on Tuesday.

Local man Berkely Johnson, who barely escaped the deadly mudslides himself, heard the baby's cries in the dark and pulled her out of the debris. With the wildfires leaving behind a waxy layer of debris that made it hard for water to infiltrate the ground, the downpour caused flash floods in the fire-scarred Santa Ynez Mountains.

Power, water, and gas are unavailable in the area, sending Montecito into the "Stone Age", the Times notes.

The debris and mud flows were first reported along with a house fire before 4 a.m. on the 800 block of Park Hill Avenue, according to Ventura CHP. He was not sure who it was.

In daylight, Tighe was shocked to see a body pinned by muck against his neighbor's home.

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