LOS ANGELES – Mudslides unleashed by a ferocious storm demolished homes in southern California, authorities said Tuesday. Five people were reported killed.
Santa Barbara County Fire Department (SBCFD) says the bodies were discovered in mud and debris during rescue operations in Montecito, northwest of Los Angeles, according to various reports.
The fire and sheriff's departments weren't immediately available to confirm the deaths.
WASHED AWAY: Drone footage above Montecito, California, shows a massive mudslide this morning after a major winter storm, with dirt and debris swamping the 101 Freeway and closing the highway in both directions. https://t.co/yPfAYQc6m4 pic.twitter.com/Gsrxt3Eg7e— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) January 9, 2018
The SBCFD said on its Twitter feed it was using dogs to look for victims where multiple homes once stood in Montecito following heavy rain.
The department posted pictures of neighborhoods submerged in mud and roads rendered inpassable by fallen trees.
"Firefighters successfully rescued a 14-yr-old girl after she was trapped for hours inside a destroyed home in Montecito," it added.
Roads were clogged throughout the region with mudflows shutting down more than 30 miles (50 kilometers) of the 101 Freeway and knocking a number of homes from their foundations.
Emergency responders received numerous unconfirmed missing-person reports, the fire department told the Los Angeles Times.
The highest rainfall total, was recorded at five inches (13 centimeters) in Ventura County, according to the National Weather Service Los Angeles.
Much of the effected area is land scorched by the massive Thomas fire last month, where there is no vegetations to soak up the excess water.