Five People Missing After California Mudslides; Thomas Fire Finally Out

Santa Barbara County Fire Search Dog Reilly looks for victims in damaged and destroyed homes in Montecito

Rescuers plan to search several areas for a second time, hoping to find victims in structures previously examined in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's mudslides.

Some smaller number, which authorities wouldn't give, were actively being investigated as missing people who could be dead under the debris. The death toll went up to 18 Friday afternoon, and the number of missing people in Santa Barbara County was lowered to five.

ROTT: The mudslides have closed roads, including a section of the Pacific Coast Highway. "Not only for the people that have lost their lives and lost their houses, but for all the rescue people who did all this hard work to save these houses and to see their work apparently be lost by this flood and the damage that it's caused".

"But realistically we suspect that we are going to continue to have discovery of people who were killed in this incident".

"We're starting to get to the phase where people are actually calling in and saying, 'If you're looking for me, I'm OK, '" Elms said.

The Bay Area firefighters are among hundreds of rescue workers from around the state searching through mud for victims and survivors. The order covers about 10,000 residents, and officials said it could last "one to two weeks".

Firefighters and utility crews have been working with chain saws and jackhammers, while heavy machinery was used to scoop up mud and rocks around buckled and flattened homes.

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Now, three days in to a mandatory evacuation order they made a decision to ignore, the Shaws said they're determined to ride out what could be a multi-week closure.

The fires burned most vegetation, leaving flawless conditions for the latest disaster to unfold. "We are the lucky ones", he said, shaking his head with the knowledge that a single boulder on a different trajectory could have taken out his home.

On the morning of the storm, Grokenberger watched as 2 to 3 feet of water streamed down the street.

"There are four juveniles on the list", Brown said.

"The house is destroyed, but you know, there's just so many others who are less fortunate".

"Load up the vehicle, get the dogs, we're out of here", the 58-year-old shopping centre developer says he told his wife.

The December wildfires burned away hectares of brush and vegetation that normally would have soaked up heavy rainfall in the hills north of Los Angeles. It wasn't fully contained until this week. "We were all bad children and ignored the warning", he said.

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Flooding on Highway 101 in Montecito.

Until further notice, visitors can walk the sands but they're urged to stay out of the water because storm and mudslide runoff may have brought raw sewage and chemicals to the sea.

"He said so many times that after his passing, 'Make sure everyone prays for my soul.' We will, Roy!"

What can be done?

With a shovel in one hand, a man who asked to be identified only as Mikey smoked a cigarette and began removing mud and debris from the intersection of Hot Springs and Sycamore Canyon roads.

"A majority of Montecito and that whole area is in the Stone Age right now", said Mike Eliason, public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

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