Rescuers continue search for missing in deadly California mudslide

  • Rescuers continue search for missing in deadly California mudslide

Rescuers continue search for missing in deadly California mudslide

The death toll has surpassed the number of fatalities from a California mudslide in January 2005, when 10 people were killed in the town of La Conchita. Oprah Winfrey also has a property in Montecito that is reportedly worth almost $90 million.

Winfrey, who lives in the affluent Santa Barbara enclave of Montecito, looked sullen as she carefully trod through her yard, cluttered with fallen tree branches and other debris.

County Fire Captain Dave Zaniboni said five people were found dead on Tuesday in Montecito, possibly as a result of the storm. Search dogs worked on rubble piles and helicopter crews surveyed the area from above, looking for victims and lifting them to safety in the community northwest of Los Angeles.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said: 'Right now our assets are focused on determining if anyone is still alive in any of those structures that have been damaged'. The mudslides destroyed about 100 homes and injured 28 people.

"All hell broke loose", said Peter Hartmann, a dentist who moonlights as a news photographer for the local website Noozhawk.

Ben Hyatt rushed to wake everyone up when rivers of mud started banging the doors and walls of his Montecito home. Given the scale and scope of the disaster, though, she says, that may take some time. Actor Rob Lowe said on social media that Oprah Winfrey's home was being used as a staging area for helicopter rescues.

Rescue efforts are under way in Santa Barbara County for residents trapped by mudslides that overwhelmed an area scorched by wildfires last month.

Man who escaped mudslide weeps as he talks about rescuing a baby buried in mud

Authorities confirmed Wednesday 7,000 people remain under mandatory evacuation orders, while 23,000 have voluntarily evacuated their homes.

Rescue operations are ongoing as first responders continue to courageous severe conditions including dense mud, downed trees and power lines in sprawling debris fields.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department posted a photo of the moment the 14-year-old emerged from the wreckage of her demolished Montecito home, where she'd spent hours awaiting rescue.

The Thomas Fire - the largest wildfire in California's recorded history - has burned more than 281,000 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties since it began in early December.

Ms Winfrey said on Instagram that her property sustained only minor damage as she toured the scene.

In some neighborhoods still bearing the scars of the Thomas Fire, houses were completely destroyed while others nearby were untouched.