Evacuations lifted, but threat of more mudslides continue

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Several Santa Barbara County communities that were scorched in the Thomas, Whittier, Sherpa and Alamo burn areas were under mandatory evacuation orders early Tuesday morning.

Authorities say a storm coming Tuesday is expected to bring rain heavy enough to potentially cause mudslides in the fire-scarred area where debris flows killed more than 20 people earlier this year. As an abundance of caution, they put mandatory evacuations into effect twice since then, but just as quickly they are lifted when conditions allow.

The warnings follow the disaster that struck Montecito in January, when a storm unleashed debris flows that destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and killed almost two-dozen residents.

Evacuation and debris flow maps will be updated as needed, the SBCSO said. "So, that was the reason for doing the mandatory evacuations in our red zones on the map last night".

Those who live in the most vulnerable areas of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria were told to leave their homes by 8 p.m. local time Monday night, according to the Associated Press.

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The incoming storm also prompted voluntary evacuations for neighborhoods in Matilija Canyon and the North Fork area, north of Ojai in Ventura County.

An evacuation center had been opened at the Goleta Valley Community Center at 5679 Hollister Ave.in Goleta.

Tuesday's storm is the first of three systems forecast to move through the area over the next week.

The rain amounts predicted for the storms, according to the National Weather Service, are about 0.3 to 0.5 inches per hour late Monday into Wednesday, about 0.3 inches per hour late Wednesday into Thursday and about 0.5 inches per hour on Friday into Saturday.

KTLA's Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.

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