1 home destroyed in Washington state landslide

Associated Press
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SEATTLE (AP) — A "massive" landslide gave way with a sound like thunder into the Puget Sound, knocking a home off its foundation, isolating or threatening more than two dozen other homes and taking out a road near Seattle.

Many of the homes are summer cabins or weekend getaways and were unoccupied, but residents that heard the slide described it to KOMO-TV as sounding like thunder.

No one was injured in the slide that broke about 4 a.m. Wednesday in the small community of Ledgewood on scenic Whidbey Island, said Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin. Thirty-three homes are currently impacted.

"It's possible more homes could be lost. We're trying to ensure the safety and awareness of people," Hartin said. "There's not anything we can do to stop the movement of the ground."

One person from the home that was knocked off its foundation was evacuated with the use of an all-terrain vehicle. About 10 more residents have been evacuated by boat. Hartin didn't have a total number of people evacuated. One person was taken to a hospital with a condition unrelated to the slide.

The slide broke across 400 to 500 yards on a hillside and downhill 600 or 700 yards to the water, Hartin said.

The slide took out a road close to the water, isolating 16 homes. Another 17 homes on an uphill road are threatened by the mudslide which continued to move. It was within 10 feet of a home late Wednesday morning.

There has been no significant rain in recent days so the immediate cause of the slide is unknown. But the area has been prone to slides in the past, Hartin said.

A geotechnical expert was being brought in to assess the slide and the danger to homes. If the slide stabilizes, some people might be allowed to return. But others have homes that are now unreachable.

"Being cut off from the road, water and power," residents had to leave, said Island County Sheriff Mark Brown. "It's a pretty massive mudslide."