Though advised to evacuate their homes Sunday following a landslide, most residents of the affected Dash Point houses told emergency personnel they didn’t plan to leave.
“There are three homes that are down below this that possibly could be in jeopardy should this cut loose,” said Fire Chief Cliff McCollum of Pierce County Fire District 13, adding that the slide hadn’t yet reached any structures. “It could also miss them all. It’s stable at this time. Right now we’re just going to continue to monitor it.”
The slide near Dash Point is about 50 feet wide and 150 feet long down a steep bluff, with the houses underneath located past the end of Whitman Street Northeast. At another 35-foot by 50-foot chunk of the bluff near the slide, “there’s a big crack that has this whole little section just hanging,” McCollum said.
The Pierce County slide happened a week after a deadly mudslide near Oso, in which about 30 people remained missing Sunday. It had people in western Washington already thinking about natural disasters.
Crews arrived to the Dash Point slide about 7:20 p.m. Saturday, after reports of trees snapping and other noise in the area.
They advised residents of the three beachfront houses about 8:30 p.m. to evacuate. Crews investigated the slide until about 11:30 p.m.
Crews returned Sunday morning to see if the slide had moved any and to better inspect the area.
At night they had really only been able to see the slide, McCollum said, but in the morning were able to examine surrounding areas.
Pierce County Emergency Management and Surface Water Management helped the department Sunday, the chief said. After further investigation, the agency again advised evacuation.
One of the next steps in the investigation is having the property analyzed by a geotechnical engineering firm. McCollum said plans are underway to bring a firm in. The chief also intends to check a few times a day whether the slide has moved further.
Spokesman Kyle Bustad said Pierce County Emergency Management reached out to the affected residents Sunday to make sure that they knew what was going on, and that the agency suggested they evacuate.
Sunday evening they were still trying to reach one of the homeowners who wasn’t home when they first visited. The other two did not have immediate plans to leave, he said.
“I think being in that area, they kind of know the risk associated with that,” Bustad said. “They were well aware of the landslide. I think one owner was heading out of town on Tuesday. The other owner, he was aware of it and said: ‘Thank you, but I think I’ll just sit here.’”
Bustad was filling in for spokeswoman Sheri Badger, who he said is helping with public information duties related to the March 22 Oso landslide.
Chief McCollum said there have been a few slides in the area near Dash Point in recent years. One happened in 1995, and there was some movement on the hillside again after a winter storm a couple of years ago. No structures were affected, except the walkway to the homes, which he said has been washed out a few times.
“It’s just one of those areas that is going to continue to move,” he said.
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268