School roof collapses, injuring 7

December 15, 2008 12:19:49 PM PST
A powerful storm slammed into the state Monday, producing heavy rain that collapsed a roof at an occupational school and forced hundreds to flee homes in an area devastated by recent wildfires. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

At higher elevations, heavy snow in a mountain pass east of Los Angeles closed the main route connecting Las Vegas to Southern California. North of the city, the main route to San Francisco was snarled by snow that forced the state Highway Patrol to shepherd motorists over another pass in caravans.

At least two people were killed in traffic accidents linked to the storm in Southern California. A state Highway Patrol officer directing traffic was struck and killed east of Los Angeles, the Highway Patrol told KABC-TV and KCBS-TV. In the San Diego area, at least one person died when an armored truck slid off a wet highway and rolled down an embankment, the Highway Patrol said.

The rain collapsed the roof of a classroom at the North Orange County Regional Occupational Program building in Anaheim, said Lynn Porter, assistant superintendent of educational services. More than 100 people were evacuated, and firefighters carried people out on stretchers.

At least seven people were injured and were taken to a hospital, said police Sgt. Rick Martinez. Their conditions were not immediately available.

In Yorba Linda, where 100 homes were lost to a wildfire last month, hundreds of homes in canyon areas on the east end of town were ordered evacuated Monday morning because of the threat of mudslides. Residents had been advised to leave as early as Sunday night and an evacuation center was opened.

"It is mandatory now, unknown duration," said Brea police Lt. Jim Tibbetts.

Muddy runoff on some roads was reported near midday.

The storm was part of the same weather system that brought heavy snow to Portland, Ore., on Sunday, snarling traffic and delaying airline flights, said Steven Van Horn, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

"It's making it's way south down the West Coast," Van Horn said. "It's going to be the cause for any sort of showers we will have now through Wednesday."

Rainfall totals for Southern California on Monday morning ranged from more than 1 inch at Moorpark to more than 2 inches at the Gibraltar Dam in Santa Barbara County. Snow fell at areas above 3,000 feet. The Lockwood Valley in the mountains of Ventura County had 8 inches by midmorning.

The storm was expected to linger in the area through Wednesday, Van Horn said, although showers were expected to be scattered and lighter on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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