NORTH SALT LAKE — A landslide demolished a North Salt Lake home early Tuesday morning, while others were threatened.
The slide, estimated to be 400 feet wide and 12 to 20 feet deep destroyed the home located at 739 North Parkway Drive.
NSL officials planned to declare a state of emergency as nearby residents were evacuated.
Questar natural gas workers were in the area to find leaking pipes severed or damaged by the slide. The LDS Church on 351 Lofty Lane was made available as a primary shelter.
The Clipper spoke with Randy Waddoups, a maintenance man for the Eagle Ridge Tennis and Swim Club, located near the home that was destroyed.
Waddoups said he “heard the mountain moving” Monday night. He said that developers were working in the area and he thought that they should have done something sooner.
Later that night, a major rainstorm blew over Davis County, washing mud and debris down the hill.
A week-long tennis tournament and fundraiser benefitting juvenile diabetes began Monday at the club. The tournament was moved to Woods Cross High School and surrounding city tennis courts on Tuesday, and will be moved to other courts throughout the week.
Eagle Ridge club owner Brad Ferreira said aerobics and tennis classes were going on at approximately 6:30 a.m. when patrons heard the slide moving. He said they quickly exited the buildings and ran to safety.
NSL Mayor Len Arave told the Clipper the city’s primary concern was to make sure all the residents were safe.
According to NSL City Manager Barry Edwards, crews for the developer were working on Monday near the hill where the slide occurred when workers noticed the slough beginning.
Edwards said the workers stopped what they were doing and began to try and stabilize the slide. Later in the evening, a massive thunderstorm swept over the area, dropping a lot of rain. The runoff from the storm complicated efforts to move enough dirt, and the hill came down.
South Davis Metro Fire Chief Jeff Bassett said that 27 homes were immediately evacuated from the area, and that families were escorted back to their homes – one by one – to retrieve essential items. As of press time, all but four families were allowed to return to their homes.
“This is why 72-hour kits are so important,” said Bassett.
By midday, Bassett noted that the slide had not moved, but crews had worked to build a berm above the slide area to draw water away from more expected rainfall.
Bassett said three homes near the destroyed house were in still danger, and that other homes might be evacuated if the slide moves again.
Arave also reported that Questar crews shut off the gas to the Parkway Dr. homes and others in surrounding areas as they located a leaking line.
Some neighbors who spoke to the Clipper were already assessing blame for the slide, suggesting that the city had asked Sky Properties, the developer working in the area, to “shore up” the hill.
Edwards said it’s too early for finger-pointing, and that the plan set forth by the developer went into effect nearly nine years ago.
“We rely on experts,” said Edwards. “You can’t control the weather.”
Addressing other NSL slides years earlier, Edwards said the city and developer followed guidelines and got proper approval before beginning the latest phases of home construction.
“We could have guessed better,” said Edwards. “But that’s not important right now. We’re about saving property and life.”
He added, “There will be plenty of time to sort out who’s to blame.”
Late Tuesday night, the Clipper contacted Wilford Cannon, one of the partners in Eaglepointe Estates, the company that developed the planned community where the landslide hit.
“Our hearts go out to the people who’ve been displaced,” said Cannon. “This is not a problem we created, but we’re working with the city to try and mitigate the problem.”
“No one knows why this happened,” he added.
Cannon also confirmed that the residents of five homes were being relocated to Eaglepointe “model homes” nearby. The five homes include the building that was destroyed, along with four others named by emergency officials as “at risk.”
Cannon also expressed relief that Tuesday’s rainstorm did not cause any added damage to the hillside, and referred to the storm as a “non-event.”
He also noted that Sky Properties is a marketing firm attached to Eaglepointe Estates, which is owned by Steven E. Smoot, W. Scott Kjar and himself.
Eaglepointe Estates later released a formal statement to the Clipper, saying:
"All earthwork in the development surrounding the slide has been performed based upon standard protocols, recommendations and approvals from several independent engineering companies as well as the geotechnical engineers representing North Salt Lake."
The release also stated:
"The slide that occurred this morning is on property that was originally a gravel pit used for the expansion of 1-15 just prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics. The reclamation of this property was performed by the gravel pit operators prior to 1997. The area of the slide is largely owned by the city of North Salt Lake. Eaglepointe Development is a residential developer that has developed extensively in the area since (sic) 1999.
Stay with davisclipper.com for updates on this story.
Clipper staff members Louise R. Shaw and Shain Gillet also contributed to this report.