UPDATED: Multiple landslides at Nojoqui Falls Park Wednesday following heavy rain, left a popular hiking trail closed indefinitely, but no reported injuries, park officials said.
The landslides, which brought down tree branches and boulders that blocked a trail leading to a waterfall, occurred about 11:30 a.m. near the end of the quarter-mile Nojoqui Falls Trail.
Seven hikers — a family of four and three teenage girls — were near the area when the slides occurred. But initial reports that they were trapped were false, said Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesperson Capt. David Sadecki.
SBCOFD CODE 20. MUID SLIDE AT NOJOQUI FALLS.4-5 PEOPLE TRAPPED BEHIND THE SLIDE. CALL TIME 1141.— CA-SBC Dispatch (@SBCFireDispatch) December 3, 2014
Three fire engines, two hand-crews, an ambulance, a battalion chief and helicopter responded to the scene.
Firefighters hiked to the slide area and brought the group back safely, Sadecki said.
At least two more slides occurred after the initial mudslide, North County Park Operations Manager Michael Allen said, adding that the boulders that came down were about three feet in diameter.
The second slide, Sadecki said, was just as large as the first.
“We heard rocks fall when we went up there to look at it,” Allen said. “We’re trying to keep a safe distance because it’s still active till we know it’s not.”
Park officials must wait for the area to dry before an expert can assess the situation, Allen said.
“Right now there’s a lot of rocks and boulders that have a potential of coming down – it’s a very steep slope,” he said.
Landslides occurring in parks are unusual, Allen said.
Sadecki, who has worked in Santa Barbara County for 32 years, said he has never seen a mudslide in a park before.
“It’s very unusual,” he said.
Dan Pedersen, a maintenance supervisor for North County parks, said he hasn't seen one in his 30 years, either.
Heavy rainfall saturated Santa Barbara County starting late Sunday. By Tuesday, Solvang had received more than an inch of rain.
The trail will remain closed until the area dries out and experts can assess the trail's safety.
“Right now, it’s too early to tell what the next options are for us,” Allen said.
ORIGINAL: Santa Barbara County firefighters are responding to reports of four to five people trapped behind a mudslide near Nojoqui Falls in Solvang.
The call was reported shortly before noon.
This story will be updated when more information becomes available.