Preparedness & Recovery

Flood, Mudslide Risk Prompts Local Emergency, Evacuations for Thomas Fire Burn Areas

Mandatory evacuations were issued for parts of unincorporated Ojai near the Thomas Fire burn area, as a "high-intensity" rain event was expected to flood the region through Tuesday morning.

by Kaytlyn Leslie, The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) / January 9, 2018
Mudslides are now feared where the Thomas fire burned. AP/Mike Eliason

Residents near the Thomas Fire burn area are being cautioned that the approaching storm could cause floods and mudslides in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, prompting evacuations and emergency warnings Monday afternoon and evening. Residents in the Alamo Fire area east of Santa Maria are also being warned.

Several inches of rain are expected to fall on the California Central Coast on Monday night.

Ventura County

Mandatory evacuations were issued for parts of unincorporated Ojai near the Thomas Fire burn area, including from Matilija Canyon to Wheeler Gorge and North Fork, as a "high-intensity" rain event was expected to flood the region through Tuesday morning.

The conditions increase the potential for mudslides and debris that could affect homes and transportation routes in the area.

Voluntary evacuations were encouraged for those in Casitas Springs, along Ojai Road and Upper Ojai and La Conchita.

As of 4 p.m., Highway 33 was also closed between Fairview Road and Rose Valley north of the city of Ojai.

Santa Barbara County

To the north, Santa Barbara County proclaimed a local emergency due to storms and evacuated about 21,000 people from the neighborhoods beneath the Thomas Fire and other previous blazes' burn areas Monday afternoon.

Robert Lewin, director of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, urged residents of the communities of Summerland, Carpinteria and Montecito to leave by mid-Monday, according to the Associated Press.

The mandatory evacuation order includes Tecolote Canyon, Eagle Canyon, Dos Pueblos Canyon, Gato Canyon and the Whittier burn areas near Goleta, as well as Calle Ecuestre and Calle Quebrada west of Gato Canyon near Goleta.

A voluntary evacuation warning was also issued for parts of Tepusquet Canyon near the Alamo Fire burn area east of Santa Maria.

An information line is available for storm updates, evacuation information and transportation assistance. The number is 805-681-5542 or text 805-699-0165.

The local emergency declaration -- which is expected to be ratified by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning -- will enable the county to "utilize all resources necessary to respond to damage that will likely be caused by these storms and to receive any needed funding through the California Disaster Assistance Act and any other State and Federal funding that may be available. This proclamation is for the entire county including all of the affected cities and districts."

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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