Dash Point slide threatening homes, but residents staying

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. -- A landslide is threatening three homes at Dash Point in northeast Pierce County, but at least one homeowner below the slide is staying put.

County officials say the slide has slowed but has moved more than eight feet since the hillside let go Saturday night.

Pierce County District 13 Fire Chief Cliff McCollum said several residents called 911 at 7:20 p.m. on Saturday saying their heard the sound of trees breaking. Fire crews found a 5- foot wide by 100-foot long slide at the tail end of Whitman Street Northeast just south of Dash Point.

Fire crews notified nearby homes that they were in jeopardy but did not issue a mandatory evacuation. Pierce County Director of Emergency Management Lowell Porter and two of his staff members toured the slide area Tuesday morning with Chief McCollum. He was going to give a briefing to the County Executive's office later in the day.

"It's concerning, especially with the past," Porter said. "We are just trying to figure out how to put monitoring in place and work with the chief and some of the experts in terms of doing a good assessment rather than guessing."

The hillside saw a similar landslide in 1996. The members of the department of emergency management have staked the landslide to track any further movement.

Thomas Cameron and his family live below the slide zone. They were advised over the weekend by officials that in might to wise to move out until the hillside stabilizes, but Cameron is staying put.

"I don't think any of us are concerned about it down here because it's just part of nature and the hill shifts all the time," said Cameron, who runs a real estate business out of his beachside home.

"I seem to be out here every 30 minutes," said McCollum, who is worried the saturated hillside could let go. "My worry level is much more accelerated."

Both McCollum and Porter are aware of the heightened sensitivity to landslides because of the Oso tragedy.

"It raises that level of awareness and concern and you want to be out front of it as much as you can and be proactive," Porter said.

But Cameron, who would lose his home of 25 years if the land lets go, isn't as concerned.

"I'm more sensitive probably, but today we're fine," he said.