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Mandatory Evacuation Orders Issued For Santa Barbara County Burn Areas In Path Of Storm

Latest satellite images of storm approaching West Coast

Santa Barbara County public safety officials issued a mandatory evacuation order Thursday morning for the Thomas, Whitter, and Sherpa brush fire burn areas due to the approaching winter storm.

People need to be out of the evacuation zones by 6 Thursday night.

Officials say while the potential for debris flows is considered to be low to moderate, they don’t want to take any chances. Roads could become flooded and impassable, as they did during the deadly January flooding and debris flow in Southern Santa Barbara County.

Sheriff Bill Brown says people should not wait for deputies to come to their home, but should make preparations to leave as soon as possible. He says because of the size of the evacuation area, they won’t be able to contact everyone personally.

Forecasters say the county will get some rain this afternoon, but they expect the heavy rainfall to come between midnight and daybreak. They say an inch is possible on the coast and up to three inches in the mountains.

The American Red Cross has a shelter open at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. Highway 101 remains open at this time. CHP officials say if they decide to close it for safety reasons, it would happen just before the arrival of the brunt of the storm, which means based on its current timing it could happen late tonight or early tomorrow morning.

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