Residents of remote California canyon airlifted to safety after getting stranded by storms

Residents of a remote California canyon cut off by the state’s devastating winter storms had to be airlifted to safety in a helicopter.

Officials say that around six residents of remote Matilija Canyon, about 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles, had become trapped there when roads became impassable.

Several days of intense weather left the flooded road covered in rocks and boulders, and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department had to send in a helicopter on Tuesday to bring the stranded residents out safely.

“It is a public service for residents who live there and would like to get out of the area,” Capt. Trina Newman of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department told The Ojai Valley News.

The residents, and one pet dog, were taken in the helicopter and dropped off at Nordhoff High School.

The Ventura County Firehawk is a converted former military Blackhawk helicopter.

It was sent to the canyon after authorities received a string of calls from concerned family members who could not contact their relatives because of poor phone service in the area.

“We recognise it’s a unique situation for people who live out there,” added Capt. Newman.

The sheriff’s office also used a decommissioned military BV 206 Hagglund, which is fitted with tracks rather than wheels, to get through heavy mud to access neighbourhoods in Ojai and check on residents.

California officials say that at least 17 people were killed by a system of intense winter storms that battered the state this week.

And Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday that the storms had cost “more lives than wildfires in the past two years combined.”

Some 57,835 homes and businesses remained in a power blackout on Wednesday morning, according to utility tracker

The most outages are located in Mendocino county, north of San Francisco, along with Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties which includes the city of San Jose and Silicon Valley.

More Pacific winter storms are set to hit the bedraggled state later in the week with additional risks of further flooding and mudslides.