Five Killed In Mudslides In Southern California - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

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Five Killed In Mudslides In Southern California

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SANTA BARBARA, California -

Authorities say five people have been killed by mudslides that have destroyed homes in Southern California during a powerful winter storm that dropped record rain across the state. Their identities are being withheld pending family notification. 

Santa Barbara County Fire Department Capt. Dave Zaniboni says the bodies were found in mud and debris during rescue operations in Montecito northwest of Los Angeles. 

Crews rescued other residents from inundated homes as mud and debris from wildfire-scarred hillsides flowed through neighborhoods. Helicopters were being used even during the downpours because roads were blocked, Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Anderson said. 

"The primary issue right now is access. We've got trees and power lines down," she said.

There were reports of injuries, but Anderson didn't immediately know how many or the extent. She said "multiple" residents had been rescued and more were calling for help in Montecito and Carpinteria. Thousands were without power.

Zaniboni says crews are making rescues across the foothill enclave of Montecito northwest of Los Angeles where active searches are underway as rain continues to fall from a huge winter storm that has soaked much of the state.

Crews are working to clear debris from roads across greater Los Angeles, including a 30 mile stretch of U.S. 101 that was shut down along the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. According to CBS Los Angeles, the flooding and mud flows, which were knee deep in some areas, left several big rigs and cars stranded in the closed portion of the freeway.

One police cruiser became encased in mud near the La Tuna Canyon area. 

According to CBS News correspondent Carter Evans, "boulders the size of cars" were coming down a small creek in Montecito early Tuesday morning. Thick mud blocked a heavily traveled intersection in the area. 

Evacuation orders were issued Monday over fears of mudslides in those foothill neighborhoods where the state's largest-ever fire raged last month. As of Tuesday morning, more than 20,000 people were placed under evacuation orders northwest of Los Angeles.

The threat of mudslides is vast, spreading from Santa Barbara all the way to Duarte.   

CBS Los Angeles reports the possibility of toxic waste from burned out homes and cars are also a concern for lower-lying homeowners.    

Water and debris in lanes brought coastal U.S. 101 to a standstill, and traffic accidents on rain-slicked roadways across the region slowed the morning commute to a crawl. That's where thousands of residents evacuated Monday over fears of destructive mudslides in areas where the state's largest-ever fire raged last month. 

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