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Massive landslide destroys homes, prompts evacuations in Rolling Hills Estates neighborhood

By KCAL-NEWS STAFF

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    LOS ANGELES (KCAL, KCBS) — A massive landslide forced the evacuation of 12 homes in the Rolling Hills Estates area late Saturday night. Several homes were “completely destroyed,” according to Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Hahn says that the “major landslide” remains a threat to multiple homes along Peartree Lane adjacent to the canyon, all of which were evacuated by order of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. They expect the homes to continue crumbling under the constant movement of the land beneath them.

Officials believe that more homes may be at risk as they continue to survey the situation.

During the initial investigation, which started Saturday afternoon, crews located cracks in several of the homes.

Ultimately, they determined that 12 homes had been damaged either outside or inside by the shifting of the ground. It remains unclear when the land began to give way. Sixteen residents were given about 20 minutes to pack up and evacuate Saturday.

Geologists will be surveying the land to determine the cause.

“It’s land movement, and the land movement could be based on the excessive rains we had, or it could be some other thing that we’re not aware of yet,” said Pete Goodrich with the Los Angeles County Department of Building and Safety.

Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department patrols will monitor the area “to ensure the evacuated homes are secure,” Supervisor Hahn said.

Monday morning, Janice Hahn held a news conference in the area to give updates.

“You can hear it, it’s ‘snap, crackle, pop’ every minute that you’re walking by these homes as each rod and garage and roof are moving and cracking and falling,” said Hahn. “It’s happening very quickly.”

The 12 impacted homes have been red-tagged.

“They’ve moved almost 20 feet since last night, and homes that I saw last night are now gone,” Hahn said Monday.

“There’s nothing we can do to prevent any more movement. Everyone is pretty much in a wait-and-see mode. We’re waiting for all these homes to just meet their final resting spot somewhere in the ravine below,” Hahn said.

“There is a fissure that snakes through these 10 homes that you can actually see, and they believe that’s what’s causing the earth to pull away and drag these homes along with it into the canyon,” Hahn said.

“I guess there is a bigger picture for the homes in the area. A lot of them are situated on a similar type of landscaping. But for now, it is great to see all of the community resources mobilized to help these people and we just hope they are okay,” said Nicholas Riegels, a Rolling Hills Estates resident.

The street was blocked off and electricity in the area was turned off. Gas crews have dug up the road and were investigating any potential threats to the system or other homes.

“It’s moving quickly. There’s nothing to do to stop it, and it’s the most shocking, surreal thing I have ever seen, and I know the families that live there are devastated,” Hahn said Monday.

Rolling Hills Estates is a gated community located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

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