Image: Shorecliffs Golf Club in San Clemente, Calif.
Ken Steinhardt / The Orange County Register  /  Zuma Press
Joesph Arriola surveys his neighbor's back yard, most of which plunged into a ravine 25 to 50 feet below near the Shorecliffs Golf Club in San Clemente on Friday.
msnbc.com
updated 1/8/2011 1:18:39 PM ET 2011-01-08T18:18:39

Four Calif. homes were declared uninhabitable Friday after a hillside collapse left them on the edge of an almost vertical drop of up to 50 feet, newspapers reported.

The Orange County Register reported that the occupants of the homes in San Clemente's Shorecliffs community had been told they could remove belongings but not stay overnight by city officials.

"The slope failed. Now behind the four homes there’s a 25- to 50-foot vertical edge about 10 feet" from back of the houses, Bill Cameron, city engineer, told the Los Angeles Times.

"We're trying to work with the residents to allow them to get things out," he said, according to the Register.

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The slide happened at about 6 p.m. Thursday, but because it was dark people were not able to see exactly what had happened, the paper said.

"It was pretty dark last night and we didn't see the damage," resident Roshy Gill said Friday, according to the Register. "We saw it this morning, and we were scared."

"They won't tell us when we can come back," she added.

Cameron told the Register that the residents would have to prove their houses are safe before they would be allowed to go back to live there.

He added that among the things that fell from the patios behind the houses was "a beautiful pine tree" which was still upright but "about 20 feet below where it used to be."

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