As storm hits, California orders evacuations in coastal area

Jan 4, 2023, 2:05 AM | Updated: 4:11 pm

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — As a huge storm approached California, officials began ordering evacuations, including in a high-risk coastal area where 23 died in 2018 in a series of mudslides.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the orders were for those impacted by the Alisal Fire last year, the Cave Fire in 2019 and the devastating Thomas Fire in 2017, one of the largest in California history.

In 2018, massive torrents carrying huge boulders, mud and debris roared down coastal mountains, and through the town of Montecito to the shoreline, killing 23 people and destroying more than 100 homes. Among those killed were two children whose bodies were never found.

Montecito Fire Department Chief Kevin Taylor said Wednesday that homes near waterways are at greatest risk.

“What we’re talking about here is a lot of water coming off the top of the hills, coming down into the creeks and streams and as it comes down, it gains momentum and that’s what the initial danger is,” he said.

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As storm hits, California orders evacuations in coastal area