California Mudslides Force Evacuations of Luxury Hotels

Firefighters successfully rescue a 14-year-old girl, right, after she was trapped for hours inside a destroyed home in Montecito, CA. // Photo by Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP, Newscred

A major series of mudslides struck Montecito, California, Tuesday, causing minor damage to and evacuations of area luxury hotels.

Local landmark The Montecito Inn reports that it suffered minor damage. A photo posted to the hotel’s official Twitter account shows that the mudslide reached up to the hotel’s entrance, clogging the area with debris.

The Four Seasons Biltmore, which just reopened January 8 following the Thomas wildfire that struck the area in December, announced that it will be closed until further notice due to the flooding and mudslide.

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The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office reports that at least 15 people were killed in the mudslide. Santa Barbara County is allowing residents to shelter in place in their homes today, but they will not be allowed to move about the area. A public safety exclusion zone is in place throughout the area.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the mudslide struck just south of the Thomas fire burn area, in a neighborhood that was not subject to a mandatory evacuation. At least 25 other people were injured, and 50 people had to be rescued by air and dozens more by ground.

Last month’s California wildfires, including the Thomas fire, cost the state nearly $75 million, according to an Associated Press report at the time. It was the fourth-largest fire in California history, burning an area of 379 square miles.

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