Evacuations Ordered in Santa Barbara County Burn Scar Areas Ahead of Storm


The Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Management issued mandatory evacuations beginning at noon Monday for the areas below the Thomas, Whittier, Sherpa and Rey fire burn areas due to the upcoming storms, which could cause floods and mudslides.

Residents in the areas along Tecolote Canyon, Eagle Canyon, Dos Pueblos Canyon, Gato Canyon, and the Whittier burn areas near Goleta were also ordered to evacuate.

County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato signed the declaration Monday and the Board of Supervisors is expected to ratify it at Tuesday's meeting.

The storm is the West Coast's first significant winter storm of the season, and heavy rain and strong winds are expected in the area through Tuesday, bringing "strong potential" for flash flooding and mud in areas where wildfires recently burned through, according to Santa Barbara County officials.

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This strong storm is expected to produce heavy rain, high winds and extremely risky flash flooding, mud and debris flows.

In Atlanta, which typically avoids freezing weather, the National Weather Service said residents had begun to report "slick spots" in areas where light freezing rain began to fall earlier Monday. The threat of flash flood and debris flows is now ten times greater than before the fire.

The Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara County, which was sparked December 4, has burned more than 440 square miles and is the largest wildfire in state history. The strong winds may also down power lines and blow ash across the recent burn areas.

The gusty winds will make driving hard, especially for high profile vehicles, on roadways including Highway 101, Highway 154 and Highway 192, the advisory said.

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The American Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at the SBCC cafeteria, 721 Cliff Dr., and evacuees can park in Lot 1B.

For assistance evacuating large animals, contact Earl Warren Showgrounds.

Weather forecast for Santa Barbara through Wednesday. NWS.

The county set up a hotline for public information about evacuation areas, storm updates and to coordinate evacuation transportation, at 805.681.5542.

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Some of the same residents who were forced to evacuate during this year's wildfires in Southern California are being ordered to evacuate again as a very risky storm bears down on the area.