6 Whidbey Island homes evacuated after slide caused by 'surprisingly dry' soil


    The landslide toppled trees and covered part of the roadway. (Photo credit: South Whidbey Fire/EMS)

    LANGLEY, Wash. - Six homes were evacuated north of Langley on Whidbey Island after a small landslide toppled trees and blocked a roadway there, fire officials said.

    Emergency crews initially responded to the scene, on Bells Lane about four miles north of Langley, at around noon Thursday after receiving reports of the hillside sliding down across the roadway, said South Whidbey Fire spokesperson Jon Gabelein.

    No one was injured, but six nearby homes were evacuated while Island County engineers responded and surveyed the area, which is near the beachfront.

    Ironically, officials say, the slide was not caused by heavy rain or snow - as most slides are in Western Washington. Rather, the soil there is very sandy and "surprisingly dry," Gabelein said.

    He said it's more likely that the hillside was destabilized by recent freezing and thawing of the soil, which in turn caused the slide.

    By 5 p.m., it was determined that the slide had stopped and the hillside was stable, so residents were allowed to return to their homes. However, the road remained covered with debris and some occupants had to walk in and out of the neighborhood.

    Crews planned to clear out the debris on Friday.

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