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Firefighters survey storm damage at Thomas Fire burn area

Firefighters survey storm damage at Thomas Fire burn area

In addition to causing massive destruction, the fire also contributed to devastating mudslides in the region earlier this week.

There is now a closure order that covers the burned area and the surrounding areas in the Los Padres Forest.

As of Thursday, and eight more were missing, according to fire officials.

The 101 Freeway in Santa Barbara County is expected to remain shut down through January 15 due to the devastating mudslides and flooding that have killed at least 17 people in Montecito.

The year-end tally does not include the Thomas fire. While California wildfires generally occur in hot summer months, years of drought have created conditions where such disasters can occur year-round.

Road damage in La Canada Flintridge after fire and heavy rain damaged the roadway
Road damage in La Canada Flintridge after fire and heavy rain damaged the roadway

The Thomas Fire, considered the largest fire in California's modern history, has finally been fully contained. The state's fires scorched more than 505,900 acres, more than double last year's burned acreage count.

The Montecito region near Santa Barbara, a wealthy area home to Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres and other celebrities, was particularly badly hit. At least 17 people died this week when the mud rushed into communities around Montecito. Residents are advised to adhere to the closure order and stay out of the forest until Los Padres National Forest deems it safe for the public to reenter the area and to be mindful on any notices and warning put out by the Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Services and the Ventura County Office of Emergency Management.

With no vegetation to hold back the land, Tuesday's heavy rainfall triggered mudslides and debris flows that rushed into neighborhoods and overtook houses.

On Friday, officials warned about the potential for additional mudslides, noting that the risk of flooding is high until vegetation returns ― which could take five years.

More news: Renowned scientist Sivan K named new ISRO chairman


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