A 20-foot-high wall of mud crashed down a suburban...

SALT LAKE CITY -- A 20-foot-high wall of mud crashed down a suburban canyon Monday night, destroying houses and forcing dazed homeowners and thousands of amusement park patrons to flee. Another mudslide in Central Utah caused evacuation of a town.

The Farmington Canyon slide came without warning about 7:30 p.m. PDT, witnesses said. It swallowed three homes in its path and severely damaged several others.


Farmington Public Works Director Ron Nelson said the residents were evacuated to Farmington Junior High School, where the Amnerican Red Cross supplied cots and food.

He said officials decided to evacuate the popular Lagoon Amusement Park, 'because of the number of people there and we weren't sure what the slide would do.'

High winds of up to 70 mph in the Farmington area, 20 miles north of Salt Lake City, further complicated the problem and officials worried the winds would severely weaken the mountainside that has become severely eroded from record spring runoff.


Meanwhile, officials of Fairview, about 60 miles south of Salt Lake City, worked feverishly to evacuate the town's 1,100 residents before water from nearby Cottonwood Creek broke through a huge mudslide in Fairview Canyon.

City spokeswoman Mary Nelson said the creek is completely blocked off, forming a growing lake, and officials were certain it would break through, inundating the community.

'We're getting everybody out of town,' she said. 'We're using shcool buses to move them to Pleasant Grove about 20 miles away.'

Fairview is about 30 miles south of Thistle, the town swallowed by a huge lake formed when a mudslide in Spanish Fork Canyon blocked off the river there in mid-April. About 23 families lost their homes in that disaster.

In Farmington, officials were not only worried about the mudslide, but also about the quantity of water coming down behind the mud.

'The concern now is the quantity of water that may be coming down,' Nelson said. 'We are moving in heavy equipment to divert that water into Farmington Creek. That's where we want it to do.'

It was the latest catastrophe in the ongoing saga of record spring runoff flooding many areas in northern Utah and causing practically every stream in the state to overflow.


Two weekend drownings occurred near streams affected by high runoff and residents living near the mouth of a canyon in Salt Lake County were warned they may have to evacuate their homes.

Meanwhile, volunteers continued stacking hundreds of thousands of sandbags along city streets turned into rivers throughout the northern part of the state.

Salt Lake City's main thoroughfare, State Street, had turned into a 2-foot deep river for five blocks and police blockaded the road, keeping motorists away from a substantial part of the city's retail business district.

Continued hot temperatures sent more runoff from the snowpacked mountains into virtually every valley in northern Utah, a problem plaguing the state since late last week.

Even Tooele, in the middle of Utah's western desert, sent thousands of volunteers to pile sandbags along several city streets turned to rivers because of runoff from nearby mountains.

Runoff from Big Cottonwood Creek became too much for a diversionary pond on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley Monday and the water spilled into basements of more than a half dozen expensive homes.

Hundreds of neighbors spent the entire day pumping water from the flooded basements and sandbagging nearby homes to prevent further damage.


The Salt Lake County sheriff's office told residents in the Mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon to be prepared to leave quickly if the runoff gets any worse.

Salt Lake City Emergency Services Director Al Haines alerted residents in the higher Avenues Area on the northern hillside overlooking the city to 'severely limit water use.'

The runoff from City Creek Canyon 'has become so high and turbulent it is impossbile to treat the water.' He said officials were forced to close the water treatment plant in the area.

Salt Lake County Utilities Director LeRoy Hooton issued the same order for residents in the southeast section of the valley when heavy debris from the runoff kept water from reaching the treatment plant in that area.

Meanwhile, doctors at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake said 2-year-old Joseph Garzarelli of West Valley City died about 7 p.m. Sunday, about 26 hours after he fell into a Tooele County stream.

The toddler was camping with his parents in western Utah's Middle Canyon when he wandered away and apparently fell into the stream.

Searchers also recovered the body Sunday of Claude Staples, 68, who had been missing since Friday afternoon. Staples was found in the Logan River. Officials said he had recently suffered a stroke and they concluded he fell in the unusually high waters of the river.


About 25 miles north of Salt Lake, Farmington residents were told to continue to boil their water because a mudslide had contaminated the culinary system. And in Ogden, another 20 miles to the north, the Ogden Golf Course was 3 feet under water and officals said if stream levels continue to rise, they would evacuate Ogden Canyon where many summer homes are located.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson said the city had spent more than $1 million in its flood control eforts, but he said that expenditure would be more than made up in the savings the efforts had for private businesses that otherwise be under water.

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