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Storm Triggers Evacuation Orders, Prompts Flood And Debris Flow Concerns In Brush Fire Burn Areas

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department
The storm moving through the Central and South Coasts is triggering major flash flooding and debris flow concerns

The first significant storm of the year to hit the Central and South Coast has prompted massive evacuation orders for parts of the region.

Forecasters say the storm could bring two to four inches of rain to coastal and inland areas, and four to seven inches in foothills and mountains between now, and Tuesday morning.

The biggest concern is the potential for locally heavy rainfall, with rainfall rates of a half inch to inch an hour hitting mountain slopes and foothills stripped bare by recent brush fires.

The storm comes even as firefighters are still working to get full containment of the 282,000 acre Thomas Fire, which has scorched mountains above communities from Fillmore to Montecito.

In Santa Barbara County, a number of mandatory evacuations are already in effect in Thomas Fire burn areas, but other evacuation orders are in place related to the Whittier, Sherpa, and Rey Fires.

The  most heavily populated area affected by mandatory evacuations in the county is north of Highway 192 from the Ventura County line west to Cold Springs Road, in Montecito. A voluntary evacuation order is in effect south of Highway 192 to the ocean from the Ventura County line west to Hot Springs, and Olive Mill Roads.

An evacuation center has been set up at Santa Barbara City College, and animals can be taken to the Earl Warren Showgrounds for safekeeping.

In Ventura County, mandatory evacuation orders are in place for Matilija Canyon to North Fork, and Wheeler Gorge.  Highway 33 is closed north of Ojai.   There are also some voluntary evacuations, including La Conchita and Casitas Springs.  Ventura College is being used as an evacuation center.

There are interactive maps of the impacted areas, with evacuation information at You can get updates on the situation in Ventura County at

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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