Landslide forces homes in California to evacuate

A dozen homes in a Southern California community were forced to evacuate over the weekend due to ground shifting, posing a potential threat of colliding into a nearby canyon. Los Angeles County officials red-tagged and evacuated homes in the Peartree Lane neighborhood in Rolling Hills Estates, displacing 16 people. Disturbing footage shared on social media revealed partially collapsed homes and cracked ground, indicating significant damage. Efforts are underway to provide shelter for the displaced residents and monitor the situation in the affected area.

Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACFD) officials took immediate action on Saturday, red-tagging and evacuating homes in the Peartree Lane neighborhood in Rolling Hills Estates. This evacuation order displaced 16 individuals, according to the city. A video shared on social media by the LACFD showcased the extent of the damage, with homes partially collapsed and the ground visibly cracked. The city, in a statement on its website, assured that it is working alongside Los Angeles County agencies and the Red Cross to ensure the provision of shelter for the affected residents. Additionally, the city is collaborating with the LACFD and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to closely monitor the situation in the impacted area.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn expressed her concerns on Sunday, stating that “Homes have been pulled off their foundations.” She further emphasized that while the land continues to shift, the evacuation order remains limited to the 12 homes affected. Hahn, during a press conference on Monday, revealed that the landslide caused the ground to move approximately 20 feet. She described the initial state of the area, mentioning that there were only “a few cracks” and bent garages when she visited the day before. However, the situation worsened, resulting in garages and back decks collapsing into the ravine. Hahn expressed her astonishment, stating that the affected homes are now completely uninhabitable. Officials are awaiting the homes’ collapse into the ravine to determine the cause of the incident.

Southern California is susceptible to landslides due to its location on a major tectonic plate boundary and geological complexity, as reported by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the California Geological Survey. The region experiences various types of landslides, including rapid debris flows triggered by heavy rainfall, according to the USGS. Hahn suggested that heavy rainfall might have played a role in the recent landslide, causing underground water to create a fissure, ultimately leading to the homes falling into the canyon. Rolling Hills Estates, situated on the north side of Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles County, has a history of landslides. In 1956, a landslide destroyed 140 homes in the nearby city of Rancho Palos Verdes, and the land in the area continues to shift.

Fortunately, all residents were successfully evacuated, with individuals given 20 minutes to gather their belongings. Mayor Britt Huff expressed gratitude for the community’s support, highlighting the assistance provided by neighboring cities and elected officials at the County and State levels. Currently, Peartree Lane is closed to the public and accessible only to residents, city officials, and public safety staff.