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Landslide destroys home in Salt Lake City suburb

The owner and maintenance chief at a club damaged by a landslide in a Salt Lake City suburb said there had been signs of trouble for months.
By Frances Burns   |   Aug. 5, 2014 at 6:21 PM   |   Comments

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- A hillside in a Salt Lake City suburb crumbled early Tuesday, destroying at least one house and forcing the evacuation of 20 others and the closing of a private club.

North Salt Lake Mayor Len Arave said no injuries were reported. Arave called the loss of one home a "tragedy."

The immediate cause of the slide was a heavy rainstorm. But Brad Ferreira, owner of the Eagleridge Tennis and Swim Club, and Randy Waddoups, his head of maintenance, said they had been concerned about earth movements above the club.

Waddoups said they began in April. Homeowners in the area had reportedly complained to local officials about cracks in the soil.

Ferreira told the Salt Lake Tribune he had begun meetings with city officials more than a week ago to discuss potential problems. Then, Tuesday morning, he got a call that parts of his club were being covered with mud.

"By the time I got here by 6:30, half the hillside was down," Ferreira said. "We expected a little bit of movement, but we didn't expect it that fast. Half the mountainside is on those three tennis courts."

Removing mud and repairing facilities will cost at least $600,000, Ferreira said.

Joel Pederson, a geologist at Utah State University, said the hill includes fine-grained sand from long-gone Lake Bonneville, making it more prone to slides. The hill was quarried for gravel for decades and then developers actually increased the slope.

"From a geological perspective, I would put a circle around this area and say, 'Watch out for landslides around here,'" Pederson told the Tribune.

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