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Evacuation Order issued for Montecito & Thomas Fire burn area

By Christina Favuzzi
Jan 05, 2023 at 01:44 AM

MONTECITO, CA.– An EVACUATION ORDER is effective as of 3 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2023 due to an incoming storm that has the potential to produce flooding, mud and debris flows. This EVACUATION ORDER is effective immediately and applies to the identified properties and parcels in the Thomas Fire burn scar.

REVIEW THE STORM IMPACT CONSIDERATION MAP: Community members should reference the Storm Impact Consideration Map available on montecitofire.com and ReadySBC.org. Areas at greatest risk of flooding and debris flow are shaded in red. This is an interactive map. Type in your address to see if your property falls within the red shading and/or is outlined in red. If so, you need to evacuate immediately, before the heaviest rain arrives tonight.

storm impact map thumbnail

DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THE STORM IMPACT CONSIDERATION MAP FOR MONTECITO

DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THE STORM IMPACT CONSIDERATION MAP FOR SUMMERLAND & CARPINTERIA

“After conferring with the National Weather Service and studying our history of debris flow following wildfire, we have decided to evacuate portions of the Montecito community ahead of the heaviest rain,” said Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Taylor.

The setup of this storm is reminiscent of the systems that were responsible for the localized debris flows and debris laden flooding in 1969, five years after the 1964 Coyote Fire. The 1969 storms triggered debris laden floods and debris flows from every watershed facing the Santa Barbara Channel, resulted in five fatalities and caused considerable damage in Montecito and Carpinteria.

This Monday will mark five years since the 1/9 Debris Flow of 2018, which occurred following the Thomas Fire. While this current storm is not forecast to be quite as significant as the 1/9 event, it is powerful and significant, nonetheless. We have based our decision to issue evacuations with local history as our guide.

Recent storms that have produced 8-13 inches of rain in the last 30 days, plus the forecasted incoming storm that may produce 4-8+ inches of rain across Montecito and the Thomas Fire burn area. This cumulative, saturating rain increases our risk of flooding. 

According to the National Weather Service, the heaviest rain will fall overnight between midnight and 5 a.m. Thursday. Rain rates are expected to be 1 inch per hour, with higher rain rates possible. Rain totals are still forecast to be in the range of 4 to 8 inches. All of this data indicates that Montecito and the Thomas Fire burn area will reach saturation. Therefore, evacuations are necessary.  

“It is our intent to get everyone safely back home as soon as the storm passes. For now, our focus is evacuating areas at greatest risk and preventing loss of life and property,” Chief Taylor said.

STORM EVACUATION KEY POINTS:

  • Do not attempt to drive while it is dark or raining as roads may be damaged and your car may be swept away by moving water or debris.
  • Strong winds are also expected, which can cause debris to fall onto roadways and power outages.
  • BE PREPARED to sustain yourself and your household for multiple days if you choose not to evacuate, as you may not be able to leave the area and emergency responders may not be able to access your property in the event of road damage, flooding, or a debris flow.
  • The SBCC Wake Campus located at 300 N Turnpike Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93111 is set up as an Evacuation Center.
  • For animal evacuation information, call Santa Barbara County Animal Services at (805) 681-4332, Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm.
  • If you need animal evacuation support outside those hours, please call the County Animal Services after-hours phone line at (805) 683-2724. 

REGISTER TO RECEIVE PUBLIC SAFETY ALERTS: If you haven’t registered for emergency alerts, please do so at ReadySBC.org. Click on the red icon to register to receive emergency alerts via text, phone call, and email.  

For media questions, please contact Montecito Fire Public Information Officer Christina Favuzzi at 805-680-5526.

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