LOS ANGELES – Eight people are still missing after flooding and landslide earlier this week in Montecito, California – northwest of Los Angeles – left 17 known dead and 28 injured, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department reported Thursday.
The number of missing was reduced on Thursday from the Wednesday figure of 17 in Montecito, where a winter storm caused a sudden landslide of mud and debris that devastated the area, destroying dozens of homes.
Authorities had reported soon after the landslide that 48 people were missing, but that figure ultimately was corrected to eight.
The avalanche of debris and mud swept homes from their foundations in the area on Tuesday morning, when heavy rain fell within just 15 minutes on a part of Montecito that had been burned in a December forest fire.
About 100 homes were destroyed and 300 more suffered varying damage.
Authorities blame the landslide on the Thomas fire, the largest forest fire in the modern history of California, which burned more than 113,300 hectares (about 283,000 acres), destroying the vegetation that helps absorb rainwater and acts as a stabilizer for the soil.
The fire destroyed 1,063 structures and damaged another 280 in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, particularly affecting the cities of Montecito and Carpinteria.