Fears of second avalanche prompt Alaska evacuation order

March 28, 2022 GMT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Some residents living near an Anchorage suburb were ordered to evacuate Sunday over fears of another avalanche after a slide last week cut off about 100 homes from a main road.

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson issued the evacuation order for an area near the community of Eagle River, which is within the municipality of Anchorage, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

About half a mountain’s snowpack came down in an avalanche late Thursday. The Anchorage Office of Emergency Management said the slide is up to 450 feet (137 meters) wide and up to 80 feet (24 meters) deep. Officials said it appears no one was trapped in the slide and no homes were destroyed..

The mountain’s remaining snow was in danger of also coming down, and officials were trying to get residents along a 1-mile (1.61-kilometer) stretch to evacuate so the city could begin mitigation efforts to bring down the rest of the snowpack.

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“We have to evacuate the area: We cannot perform mitigation if one person remains because we’re not willing to risk human life,” municipal manager Amy Dembowski said. “If somebody decides to stay, the road will remain closed until it is safe which could be well into the summer.”

It was not immediately known how many people were still in the area. People were using snowmobiles to evacuate residents in the homes cut off.

Some homes still do not have power, and the Red Cross set up a shelter for those evacuating.

The city planned to begin mitigation efforts Sunday night, and the process could take several days. Part of the process would include the placement of explosives by helicopters, officials said.