Evacuations in California take place as storm approaches

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A storm soaking California yesterday could trigger mudslides in wildfire burn areas where thousands of residents are under evacuation orders, authorities warned.

Up to four inches of rain is expected along the Central Coast, and amounts could be higher in areas where thunderstorms develop, the National Weather Service said.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office ordered 3,000 residents to evacuate hillside neighbourhoods scarred by fires – including parts of Montecito hit by a disastrous debris flow just over a year ago. Officials didn’t say how many people heeded the order.

Many customers pumping gas at Montecito’s Village Service Station on Tuesday said they’re not leaving, according to Ray Dunham, who works there.

“Nobody’s going into panic mode,” he said. “They think the threat is way over-exaggerated.”

Sheriff Bill Brown told a news conference earlier this week that the system is expected to be more intense than the last several storms.

This time exposure photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department shows a series of lightning strikes over Santa Barbara, California, seen from Stearns Wharf in the city’s harbour on Tuesday evening. – AP