The death toll in weather-related incidents in Santa Barbara County has risen to 17 by Wednesday, after a storm led to dangerous mudflows that destroyed 100 homes and damaged at least 300 others in wildfire burn areas. Santa Barbara County Fire Department officials confirmed the number of fatalities rose from 13 to 15 overnight. Then another two deaths were added to the toll in an afternoon press conference. The fatality figure could increase as at least 17 people were considered still missing as

search-and-rescue efforts continued “While we hope it will not, we expect that this number will increase as we continue to look for people who are still missing and unaccounted for,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. More than 500 first responders and 10 search dogs were involved in the search-and-rescue efforts. Three people were rescued on Wednesday. Searchers believe they have looked through about 75 percent of the debris field. READ MORE