Landslide Debris Field Has To Be Approached As Hazmat Scene

Mar 28, 2014
Originally published on March 27, 2014 6:10 pm

In a clearing on a hillside above one side of the mudflow, searchers in all sorts of uniforms and bright safety vests are picking through the crushed and barely recognizable remains of homes.

Even from a distance, you know it is dirty work.

But that’s not all. Battalion chief Steve Mason says the debris field is considered a hazmat scene. Searchers thoroughly hose off at the end of each day.

“Of course, because everybody’s septic system and other personal items are strewn throughout, we make sure they are well-cleaned. We don’t want them to take anything away with them.”

Something else Mason points out are big “tinfoil” reflectors strung in some trees above where the landslide started. The battalion chief says searchers down below periodically look up to see if the shiny foil is in the same spot.

They’re mindful that the deadly hillside could slump again.

Emergency managers are planning to rotate in fresh search crews to the scene. 

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