Rescue Crews Make Their Way Into Worst-Hit Mudslide Areas

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation prisoners exit a shower tent used by rescue workers after a mudslide in Santa Barbara California

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation prisoners exit a shower tent used by rescue workers after a mudslide in Santa Barbara California

Areas that have been charred by wildfires pose a risk of flash flooding and mudslides as a heavy band of rain moves over Santa Barbara County.

The pair joined a fireman to dig the toddler out, scooping mud from her mouth before she was taken to hospital. Twenty had "storm-related injuries" and four were critically hurt.

As of early Wednesday, 300 people were trapped by debris blocking their way out of Montecito's Romero Canyon area.

"The best way I can describe it is, it looked like a World War One battlefield", Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a news conference.

The mudslide came on the heels of one of the most devastating wildfire season in the state's history.

Emergency services said a number of people were unaccounted for and they expected the number of deaths to rise.

Jennifer Markham, whose home escaped both disasters, said: "We totally thought we were out of the woods".

Weeks after fires devastated the area, floodwaters and mudslides have destroyed homes and officials said at least eight people are missing.

"I'm just exhausted. I can't seem to get my life kick-started", Teri Lebow, whose Montecito, California was damaged by the wildfires, told the Los Angeles Times.

A 14-year-old girl was also rescued from the mud after being trapped for hours. Its residents include celebrities such as TV presenters Oprah Winfrey, whose home has suffered some damage, and Ellen DeGeneres.

Rob Lowe, who has a home in Montecito, said on Twitter he was "mourning the dead in our little town tonight".

The US Coast Guard has sent "multiple airships to support rescue operations" and warn the public not to fly drones, otherwise the flights will force to be grounded.

Thousands of California residents were asked to evacuate on Monday for the second time in two months.

Evacuation orders have been issued for communities below the burned out Santa Ynez Mountains. In some areas, these rivers were so massive that they reportedly "wiped homes away from their foundations".

It made for a nightmare morning commute as cars and trucks on several major roads got stuck in the mud.

The December wildfires not only scorched away grass, shrubs and other vegetation that hold soil in place, but they also baked a waxy layer into the Earth that prevented the rains from being absorbed into the ground, Reuters explained.