Latest figures reveal the region has been hit by 190 quakes – at least one every other day on average – in the past year alone, with more than a dozen seismic events since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex moved in with 15-month-old son Archie. None of these would have been powerful enough to have been felt and Santa Barbara has not taken a massive hit since a 6.8 magnitude earthquake destroyed its historic city centre and claimed eleven lives in 1925.
But residents regularly feel tremors and experts believe another major event is “overdue” in the area, which is located near several underground fault lines, including the Hosgri and San Luis ranges that form part of the San Andreas Fault system.
Prince Harry and Meghan are due to celebrate his 36th birthday next month in their new nine-bedroom home – known as the Chateau of Riven Rock – which they bought from Russian oligarch Sergey Grishin for a cut-price $14.7 million, or roughly £11.2 million.
The original asking price of $34 million (£25.9 million) was more than double that – and last night the Duke and Duchess were starkly warned they are “sleepwalking into a firetrap” with their dream move.
British billionaire and cola bottling heir Alki David, who lives in Malibu, believes a recent series of deadly wildfires may be driving down property prices as well as posing an ever-present threat to residents.
He pointed out that the 2018 Thomas Fire, in which 23 people died either in the inferno or later from resulting mudslides, at one stage engulfed almost 300,000 acres and “ate right into” Montecito, Santa Barbara’s celebrity enclave just over 90 miles north of LA.
Mr David revealed: “I love Harry and Meghan and it is only fair they should know about the risks in Montecito. I’ll be reaching out to them to warn them.”
He added that he believes in Harry’s case “it is hard for someone from England to understand the sheer terror of fires that size……and Buckingham Palace does not usually face threats from nature.”
Locals include media mogul Oprah Winfrey and beleaguered TV chat queen Ellen DeGeneres, who was forced to evacuate her mansion at the height of the blaze.
Last year another raging inferno known as the Cave Fire forced more than 6,300 people in Santa Barbara to flee their homes and – with wildfire season approaching this year – meteorologists are already predicting the kind of dry heat and fierce winds that make flames spread swiftly.
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Mr David, who said two “dear friends” both saw their homes burn down in the city in 2018, added that even when the rain finally does come, it poses a fresh peril.
“Deadly mudslides come with wildfires,” he went on. “Ash and debris builds up in huge amounts, then when it rains mudslides bring a new deadly threat to the area. People die.”
Mr David, who lives 90 miles down the coast in Malibu, said his sister once lived in the area but moved out as wildfires began to pose an increasing threat, adding: “I fear the royals are sleepwalking into a firetrap.
“They need to urgently research and understand the dangers posed amid ever-increasing risk factors in the area in which they have chosen to live.”