British Columbia

Massive boulder crash spurs fears, forces Agassiz homeowners to evacuate

Eight properties in Agassiz, B.C., have been evacuated because of concerns about the stability of the cliffs behind them after a massive boulder recently came tumbling down.

A boulder weighing over 22,000 kilograms tumbled into a residential area in early November

This 22,000-kilogram boulder crushed a tent trailer in Agassiz, B.C., in November. (Tanya Fletcher/CBC)

Eight properties in Agassiz, B.C., have been evacuated because of concerns about the stability of the cliffs behind them after a massive boulder recently came tumbling down.

The District of Kent said in a news release that on Nov. 5 a large boulder weighing more than 22,600 kilograms slid into a residential area of Rockwell Drive. It finally landed on a trailer that was serving as a makeshift storage shed, just metres from a home.

Officials say it may have come from as far away as 1,000 metres up the side of a cliff.

Since then, the district and Emergency Management B.C. have been working with a geotechnical engineer to assess the site, however poor weather conditions have impeded the investigation.

'Safety is paramount'

Agassiz Mayor John Van Laerhoven declared the state of emergency on Dec. 4.

"Life safety is paramount for our citizens living in this area and the evacuation order is an extra precautionary step to address a potentially serious situation with the freezing weather in the higher elevations," he said.

He told CBC News that the stability of the slope above the properties is still in question.

"We want to make sure there's nothing else that's prone to fall or prone to roll down," Van Laerhoven said.

Gerald Basten, emergency program coordinator for the District of Kent, said that the dry, cold temperatures, which bring ice and then thaw, often cause instability in the rocks bluffs.

But he said conditions have improved and the rock should be cleared away by the end of the week.

"With the weather changing and looking a little better, we're hoping to be able to get the engineers on site and in the area to do a more thorough assessment of the mountainside and the rock bluff," he said.

With files from Tanya Fletcher

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