Seventeen people were confirmed dead on Thursday after a wall of mud roared down hillsides two days earlier in the scenic area between the Pacific Ocean and the Los Padres National Forest, according to Santa Barbara County authorities.
"In disaster circumstances there have been many miraculous stories lasting many days and we certainly are searching for a miracle right now", Mr Brown.
"It was literally a carpet of mud and debris everywhere with huge boulders, rocks, downed trees, power lines, wrecked cars, lots of obstacles and challenges for rescue personnel to get to homes, let alone to get people out of them". Another 20,00 residents received voluntary evacuation warnings.
After the wildfire, burned vegetation and charred soil created a water repellent layer that blocked water absorption and increased risk of mudslides and floods.
"First we got burned out at our ranch that caught on fire and now we're flooding, so the last month has been pretty bad", said one resident, Charles Stoops, as he stood in front of his house, which was surrounded in mud almost a metre deep. It includes four individuals from San Diego Fire-Rescue Department: a task force leader, search team manager, logistics manager and two canine search specialists. "There will be more", Zaniboni said, adding that some of those brought to safety were buried in mud.