Missoula County Coverage

Mar 1, 2014 1:30 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News

Authorities investigating possible cause for Missoula avalanche

MISSOULA - Missoula authorities are trying to determine what might have trigged a rare slide off the city's surrounding mountains that flattened a house and injured three people.

The slide late Friday afternoon trapped an 8-year old boy and an elderly couple beneath the snow and debris. A massive rescue effort launched by search and rescue teams, assisted by dozens of volunteers, managed to recover all three over the next three hours.

Emergency teams spent several hours searching the slide for others that might have been trapped, but were able to clear the scene by 2 a.m. this morning.

Avalanche experts are working to determine whether the slide was natural, or might have been trigged by human activity in any way. Anyone with information that might help that work is being asked to call Detective Dean Chrestenson at 552-6705 or Detective Guy Baker at 552-6284. People can also call Missoula Crimestoppers with information at 721-4444.

Although authorities continue to investigate the cause, there have been indications the slide may have been triggered by an unidentifed snowboarder.

On a post on the West Montana Avalanche Center website, forecasters said "a large slab avalanche was triggered by a snowboarder near the top of Mount Jumbo yesterday afternoon."

People are being reminded to stay off Mount Jumbo, Mount Sentinel and the foothills areas, including Waterworks Hill, because of the avalanche danger from the heavy snow.

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