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Massive landslide threatens Washington state homes

By CNN Staff
updated 6:57 AM EDT, Thu March 28, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Resident talks about the old views, current concerns
  • Geologists are on their way to Whidbey Island to investigate
  • The landslide destroyed one home, threatens more than a dozen others
  • Officials have not reported any injuries; area is prone to landslides

(CNN) -- A massive landslide in Washington has destroyed one home and threatens more than a dozen others, an official and CNN affiliates in the Seattle area reported Wednesday.

One home has only about 10 feet of its backyard left after the slide on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle, CNN affiliate KIRO reported. That home's resident was able to escape, said Ed Hartin, fire chief at Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue.

No injuries have been reported.

The landslide cut access to 17 homes, and residents have been taken out by boat, Hartin said. Others area homes also were evacuated.

Landslide 'sounded like an earthquake'
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Live video showed small sections of the cliff continuing to fall at 10:45 a.m. local time as people removed furniture and other belongings. Tons of earth had fallen into Puget Sound.

Richard Barker, who lives about 500 feet south of the landslide, told CNN on Wednesday he does not currently plan to leave his home.

"However, the Red Cross has told us they will let us know if we need to evacuate," Barker told CNN.

"We're feeling a little bit nervous. We've got a beautiful view and we'd hate to see our view and house head into the ocean."

According to Barker, the neighborhood had above-average rainfall over the winter and into spring. A snowfall late last week left several inches of wet snow that was gone.

The homes are on a seismic fault that on rare occasions shifts, said CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

Barker said the cliff has not seen movement for many years. "We just thought OK, that is something you pay for the marvelous view that you have."

Fire officials first received a call about the slide shortly after 4 a.m., Hartin said. Residents reported hearing a sound like thunder around the time of the slide, CNN affiliate KING-TV reported.

A spokesman with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources said a team of geologists is on its way to Whidbey Island to investigate.

The cause of the landslide was not immediately clear. There hasn't been rain in the past few days, said Hartin.

Recent deadly landslides in: Indonesia, China, Peru

CNN's Justin Lear contributed to this report.

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