Rescue attempts will continue into the day.
Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the primary counties affected by the downpour, were the same counties that were overwhelmed by the Thomas Fire this winter.
After a wildfire, burned vegetation and charred soil are especially susceptible to destructive mudslides because scorched earth does not absorb water well and the land is easily eroded when there are no shrubs.
Parts of the major north-south highway Route 101 were closed in both directions and not expected to reopen until next week.
Search dogs, helicopters and thermal imaging equipment are being used to find victims or survivors, with rescuers battling through waist-deep mud in some areas.
A 14-year-old girl was also rescued from the mud after being trapped for hours.
At least 50 people stranded on rooftops had already been rescued Tuesday, including a Montecito family of five with a newborn and two young children, who were plucked from a rooftop by a Coast Guard helicopter, KCAL TV reported. More than a dozen people are missing after mudslides swept away about 100 houses.
This type of soil can not absorb water as easily, making the region more vulnerable to mudslides during heavy rains-such as the ones that dumped five inches of rain on parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties this week.
The county set up an evacuation shelter at Santa Barbara City College, where some people showed up drenched in mud, and also provided a place for people to take their animals.
At least 15 people have died and officials in Santa Barbara County say that number could rise.
Tuesday’s mudslides in Santa Barbara County were the result of wildfires followed by a heavy storm that sent rivers of debris streaming down steep hillsides.
The mud was unleashed in the dead of night by flash flooding in the steep, fire-scarred Santa Ynez Mountains. We saw the boulders.
Winfrey assured her fans, however, that she was OK, thanking them for their support and prayers in the caption.
“Had we not gone over there, I don’t think that kid would have [survived]”, he added.