Dash Point slide slips farther, residents staying

Staff writerMarch 31, 2014 

Officials said Monday that a landslide threatening three Dash Point homes had slipped farther, but the houses were not in imminent danger and most residents still were not planning to follow an evacuation advisory.

Pierce County Fire District 13 Chief Cliff McCollum said that a section of land at the northeast corner of the slide moved an additional two or three feet overnight, but that the evacuation advisory was still optional as crews continued to investigate.

The Pierce County Building Department visited the site Monday, the chief said.

“If those houses had been in imminent peril, the building official that was with me would have given an evacuation notice,” McCollum said.

Tom Irick is a neighbor of the people emergency crews have suggested evacuate, at the end of Whitman Street Northeast. He said he heard trees snapping when the landslide happened Saturday night.

When people used to ask him why he commuted to Seattle from the Dash Point neighborhood where he’s lived 28 years, he told them pulling into his beachfront home lowered his blood pressure 20 points, easily.

There are neighborhood parties and barbecues, and plenty of patios with views of Puget Sound to host them.

A walkway at the end of Whitman, near Irick’s house, is the access route to the homes under the landslide, as well as several others.

Of the three homes below the stalled slide, residents of one haven’t been home for officials to reach, and owners of the other two said they don’t plan to leave, the chief said.

On Sunday, Loren Combs described his house, one of the three affected, as a “slice of paradise.”

No other residents of the three homes were available for comment Monday. A woman at one house declined to be interviewed.

Irick understands his neighbors’ decision to stay put.

“The common denominator is love of the water, and what comes with it,” he said. “If we get pushed into the water, we’ll die happy.”

But for the record, he said that’s not something he’s worried about.

“Nothing significant compared to other landslide areas,” he said. “It’s the wettest March on record, so ground gets saturated.”

As for his own home: “The retaining wall has been leaning for years,” he said. “You never know. I’m not too worried about it.”

Jim Beal and his girlfriend had been looking for a place with a view and moved to the Dash Point neighborhood about a month ago, he said. His home is not one of those threatened by the slide.

“After the Oso thing, I told her it’s not something to be worried about around here,” Beal said. “Even with that.”

The owner of the land where the slide happened, who also owns one of the homes below, planned to have a geotechnical engineer come out Tuesday, the chief said.

“By (Tuesday) I think we’ll have a good idea of what this (landslide) is going to do,”  McCollum said.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268




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