Ahead of a strong winter storm that could trigger flash flooding and mudslides, authorities have ordered evacuations of Santa Barbara County neighborhoods that sit below areas recently burned by wildfires.
Residents who live in the following areas were told to evacuate by noon Monday: north of Highway 192, east of Cold Springs Road, and west of Highway 150/the county line, as well as along Tecolote Canyon, Eagle Canyon, Dos Pueblos Canyon, Gato Canyon and in the Whittier fire burn areas near Goleta.
A voluntary evacuation warning was issued for all areas south of Highway 192 to the ocean and east of Hot Springs Road/Olive Mill Road to Highway 150/county line, Santa Barbara County officials said.
"People in these areas should stay alert to changing conditions and be prepared to leave immediately at your own discretion if the situation worsens," the county said in a statement.
Almost 4 inches of rain is expected in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties — where the massive Thomas fire has scorched more than 281,000 acres — from Monday evening through Tuesday morning. Authorities warned of the potential for heavy rain, strong winds and "extremely dangerous" flash flooding and debris flows.
The nearly extinguished wildfire, which erupted Dec. 4, is the largest fire on record in California. Residents who live in areas burned by the Whittier, Sherpa and Rey fires are also affected by the evacuations.