What may have caused a boulder to collapse into Jefferson County homes

Crews in Jefferson County returned Monday morning to clean up a mess after a partial landslide damaged homes and forced two families to find somewhere else to live.

"It’s very rare that we run rocks into structures in our area so that was different for us," said Stephanie Jackson, the public information officer for Rock Community Fire Protection District.

On Sunday, a large boulder cracked off a cliff and it sits behind a set of townhomes on Richmond Court.

The office for the city of Arnold said this isn't in the city of Arnold but unincorporated Arnold.

"It rolled right into the kitchen. When first responders arrived they found a 12-by-12 foot boulder had rolled into the rear of the structure of the apartment buildings," Jackson said.

The recent weather changes remind us how unpredictable Mother Nature can be.

"Water melts, it freezes, it expands out, it melts, it runs out, it rains again, it freezes and it pushes that boulder out like potholes and that essentially happened," Jackson explained.

The agency didn't remove the rock, but they were there to secure the scene.

"Making sure there are no ruptures or gas leaks and there is no structural damage to that building so that it can further collapse and clearing the collapse zone," she said.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

One person did evacuate on their own and first responders evacuated someone sleeping inside.

"There were two units affected by the rock slide. There are four units that building," Jackson said.

However, two homes out of the four are now uninhabitable.

Neighbor Mariah Smith can't help to think, what if?

"I felt slight emotions about it because it could’ve been us. It’s terrifying. I think about the kids immediately because there are so many little ones," Smith said.

Partial landslides have happened here and there in Jefferson County, Jackson said.

A few years ago, a rock slide happened on Highway M and they had to shut down the highway to clear it.

The fire department also responded to a man-made slide in the Windcrest subdivision a couple of years ago.

"When rock slides happen they tend to happen along the highway and they have a buffer area and sometimes they have the rails. It’s not something we deal with frequently," Jackson said.

The director of the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management also said since this is an isolated incident, this isn’t something they likely to become involved since the extent of damage isn’t large enough to warrant a declaration and the responding agencies didn’t need any additional coordination or logistical support upfront.

The Jefferson County Building Inspector checked the structure for stability. The occupants have been displaced until repairs are made.

The Red Cross says the agency is assisting financially during this time and helping two families, a total of four individuals.
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