They finally eroded into deadly mudslides that struck the community unawares.
In addition to FaceTiming with Winfrey, DeGeneres opened up about how the natural disaster has impacted her personally. And she's been out looking for people since Monday. California's system in general is a county-by-county, and in some cases, phone-by-phone patchwork.
RATHBUN: I don't think I can do it justice, honestly. But he confessed: "The likelihood is increasing that we'll be finding bodies, not survivors".
More than 100 homes have been destroyed by the fast-moving floods of mud and debris, and in the affected area coastal Highway 101 looks like a river of mud.
The US Forest Service announced on Friday that the fire that burned 440 square miles had been fully contained.
"Safety officials just didn't see this happening", said Bastian.
The oldest victim swept away in a California mudslide was Jim Mitchell, who had celebrated his 89th birthday the day before. That earthquake was followed by a tsunami that caused similar damage.
Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said: "We've got a window that's closing but we're still very optimistic we've got some time". "You can't even see the center divider, and water is still coming down". The Thomas Fire's the biggest in the state of California.
"We had thought about leaving, but we had just had the fires", he said, referring to the recent wildfires that stripped the area of needed vegetation. And it made me so proud to live there.
People in Montecito had counted themselves lucky last month after the biggest wildfire in California history spared the town. The roofs of some homes in canyon runoff areas were encased in mud, which has now dried. She then praised the firefighters and her "tight-knit" community.
A mandatory evacuation order has been extended, as Santa Barbara's County Sherriff said residents staying behind were hindering recovery efforts.
The ESRI map combines data collected from various geographical agencies such as USGS, Bureau of Land Management and NGA as well as NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Asher returned with a pickax and five friends and trudged through the debris to salvage any possession he could find. Riskin is survived by her husband, two grown children and a grandson. He said those who perished range in age from three to 89 years old.
But it's only a start. I'm hoping it's okay.
Along Hot Springs Road, where at least two homes were carried off their foundations, bulldozers cleared muck and debris from areas already searched. We're going to help each other.
What can be done? "Massive", she said, sharing a photo of the street in front of her house that was filled with mud-covered debris from fallen trees to boulders. She was taken away on a stretcher.
MCEVERS: Have you found anyone? There have been a couple groups that have.
That's when things get scary.
The family rode out the storm unharmed on kitchen counters as the debris smashed through the walls and water swirled around them.
RATHBUN: No problem. Thank you.