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As a California mudslide death toll hits 18, as crews continue to search

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California Mudslides: What makes them so destructive.

This animated video explains how the Southern California mudslides were so destructive after the recent wave of deadly forest fires.

At least 18 people were killed and at least five are still missing in the devastating mudslides ravaging Southern California, and the local authorities said Friday.

The last person found dead was Joseph Bleckel, an 87-year-old, who was found by a search team at his home Friday morning. Bleckel was one of those on the missing persons list, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.

But during a later press conference, Brown also announced the recovery of the resident John Keating, 53, who only moments earlier was still categorized as missing.

“He is in an out-of-area hospital being treated,” Brown told reporters. “Our missing list is up to five.”

CALIFORNIA MUDSLIDES: WHERE AND WHY THEY HAPPEN

Many residents in Montecito were in command of the evacuation as crews continue to search for missing victims, as well as the repair of electricity, water and gas lines and clean up of large amounts of debris. More than 1,200 workers were reportedly on the scene.

The area northwest of Los Angeles is home to celebrities such as Rob Lowe, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey.

Even those who do not lose their homes had to leave for up to two weeks, so that they do not interfere with the rescue and recovery operation.

Brown expanded the public safety zone Thursday includes most of Montecito, which means that even those who previously remained in the area were forced to leave. Those who do not comply would face arrest.

CALIFORNIA MUD SLIDES SWEEP AWAY CAR IN SHOCKING VIDEO CAPTURED BY THE FIRE BRIGADE

The mudslides, which were set off by the heavy rain, took a lot of homeowners by surprise early Tuesday, despite warnings issued days in advance that the slides were made possible by the recent wildfires stripped hillsides of the vegetation that normally holds soil in place.

The evacuations are under plenty of problems for the city that is subject to repeated evacuation orders in the past few weeks, starting with that issued by the Thomas Fire in December.

The U. S. Forest Service announced Friday that the Thomas Fire, the largest wildfire recorded in the state of the history, it was officially 100 percent contained, confirmed by the aerial investigation of the charred 440 square kilometers of surface.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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