Los Angeles hillside collapse threatens homes, forces evacuations, California

Los Angeles hillside collapse threatens homes, forces evacuations march 2024

An early-morning landslide on March 13, 2023, caused significant damage to a house under construction and posed a threat to several other homes in the 3700 block of North Ventura Canyon Avenue, Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Fire Department reported no injuries, and several residents were evacuated as a precaution. The landslide led to the red-tagging of at least one building and prompted the deployment of LAFD Drone Operators to assess the situation further.

A landslide in the early hours of March 13, 2023, hit the 3700 block of North Ventura Canyon Avenue in Sherman Oaks. The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) was called to the scene at 02:51 LT following reports of a downed tree and electrical wires in the backyard of a residence. Upon arrival, crews discovered a significant hillside collapse affecting at least three homes, with one under-construction house suffering heavy damage.

Several people have been safely evacuated from the impacted area as a precaution. A thorough search by firefighters confirmed that there were no injuries. To mitigate further risk, LAFD is actively removing water from a local swimming pool to reduce weight and stress on the hillside.

The Department of Building and Safety has assessed the affected structures and hillsides, resulting in the red-tagging of at least one building, indicating it is unsafe to occupy. LAFD Drone Operators were scheduled to fly drones equipped with cameras and infrared technology at daybreak to enhance situational awareness for both LAFD and Building and Safety personnel on-site.

Landslide expert Dr. Dave Petley provided insights into the possible causes of the landslide, noting the role of California’s heavy winter rainfall in raising groundwater levels, which could partially explain the slide. However, he also pointed to a potentially significant factor: an unsupported excavation on the slope visible in the NBC video below, at about 42 seconds into the video.

Dr. Petley emphasized the need for caution in slope excavations within areas known for high landslide risks, suggesting that further investigation into the excavation’s details would be essential in understanding the landslide’s cause fully.

The LAFD and local authorities continue to monitor the situation closely, working to ensure the safety of the affected residents and to prevent further damage in this high-risk area.

References:

1 Sherman Oaks landslide destroys one home – LAFD – March 13, 2024

2 The 13 March 2023 Sherman Oaks landslide in Los Angeles – The Landslide Blog – March 14, 2024

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