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Massive landslide in Washington state damages home, threatens others

An aerial photo shows a landslide near Coupeville, Whidbey Island, Wash., on Wednesday. The slide severely damaged one home and isolated or threatened others.
An aerial photo shows a landslide near Coupeville, Whidbey Island, Wash., on Wednesday. The slide severely damaged one home and isolated or threatened others.Ted S. Warren / AP

Residents reportedly heard what sounded like thunder before a massive landslide on an island in Washington state, which damaged one home and threatened or isolated dozens more.

An aerial photo shows a landslide near Coupeville, Whidbey Island, Wash., on Wednesday. The slide severely damaged one home and isolated or threatened others.Ted S. Warren / AP

The slide occurred about 4:15 a.m. on the west side of Whidbey Island near the town of Coupeville, NBC station KING 5 reported. No one was injured.

 

Dramatic pictures showed one home off its foundation on a bluff. It had moved several hundred feet, Deputy Chief Chad Michael of Central Whidbey and Rescue told NBC News. 

Other home owners lost large sections of their yards to the slide, and at least one house was now perched precariously with only a 10-foot strip of ground separating it from a large drop to the shoreline of Puget Sound, an inland sea dotted with numerous islands.

A road along the base of the bluff near the beach was closed and power and water were cut off to homes. The closure of the road isolated 17 houses, Michael said. 

All told, 25 homes were effected by the slide.

Emergency workers were attempting to access parts of the damaged area through property owned by Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, KING 5 reported.

The Red Cross has set up a relief center for residents who had to flee their homes. Evacuations continued through the morning. 

It was unclear what triggered Wednesday's slide, but winter rains are known to saturate bluffs along Puget Sound's shoreline, putting pressure on high slopes and causing the earth to move.

The state warns people interested in buying shoreline property about the landslide hazards.

Coupeville is about 50 miles northwest of Seattle.