Oprah Winfrey's Home Slimed by California Mudslides

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Seventeen people were confirmed dead after a wall of mud roared down hillsides two days earlier in the scenic area between the Pacific Ocean and the Los Padres National Forest, according to Santa Barbara County authorities.

Some 500 firefighters and other rescue workers were searching debris spread across a wide area of Montecito, a wealthy area of about 9,000 people northwest of Los Angeles.

Footage showed a fire caused by a gas leak in the downpour as well as Winfrey's mud covered backyard, which she waded through in rain boots, People noted.

Walking through her backyard in almost knee-deep mud, Winfrey posted a video to Instagram writing: "Praying for our community again in Santa Barbara".

A devastating mudslide has killed at least 15 people in Montecito, Santa Barbara, but why do mudslides happen and what made this one so risky?

Hundreds of calls: As the storm hit hard between 3 and 6 a.m. Tuesday, sheriff's office dispatchers handled more than 600 phone calls for assistance, said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. Authorities said more than 100 homes had been completely destroyed and another 300 damaged.

"It looked like a World War I battlefield", Brown said of the destruction.

The fire erupted December 4 in Ventura County, destroying hundreds of homes before it spread into Santa Barbara County and threatened more communities including Montecito.

Flood Watch: Heavy rain to settle over state Friday into Saturday
Temperatures will fall into the lower 30s and below freezing early tonight , with a transition to all snow overnight. The watch is in effect from Thursday night through Saturday night . "It's more like a lack of cold", Masters said.

Officials have ordered residents in a large swath of Montecito to stay in their homes so that rescuers can better go about their work.

Helicopters were used to pluck more than 50 people from rooftops after downed trees and power lines blocked roads.

Highway 101 has been shut down in both directions because of the mud, Santa Barbara County officials announced Tuesday afternoon. She said that her property was fine and that the damage "pales in comparison" to what her neighbors were going through. Eight people are still missing.

"I'm heartbroken for our community of Montecito", she said.

Among those winched to safety was a 14-year-old girl, who was rescued from a collapsed house in Montecito.

He said the zone, which includes areas formerly under voluntary evacuation advisories, would be in effect for one week but that residents should plan for two.

In some neighborhoods still bearing the scars of the Thomas Fire, houses were completely destroyed while others nearby were untouched.

That fire, of course, was the Thomas fire, which just last month burned more than a quarter million acres.