‘Fire-floods’ are the new threat in California disasters. Where will they strike next?


Brent Larson awoke at 4 a.m. to the shake and rumble of what felt like a freight train rolling down the hill toward his Santa Barbara County home. He leaped from his bed and woke his two sons. In seconds, a wall of water, mud and rock slammed into his house, smashing through one window, then the next, then a third, pouring in as the trio sprinted to the safety of the chimney at the home’s far corner. “It was like out of ‘Indiana Jones,’” he said, nine months later, still shaken. He was lucky. Twenty-one of his Montecito neighbors were killed that Jan. 9 night, and 400 homes damaged or destroyed.

Rachelle Sassi