Wall of mud slams into Jeremy home | ParkRecord.com

Wall of mud slams into Jeremy home

Hidden Cove resident Ralph Hottinger cleans up his yard Saturday after a mudslide roared through the Jeremy Ranch neighborhood. Photo by Scott Sine/Park Record
Photo by Sine

Hidden Cove resident Ralph Hottinger thought a bolt of lightning had struck his neighborhood when a chunk of hillside let loose Saturday afternoon.

"It was two feet deep and it was coming down," Hottinger said from the scene of a mudslide near Jeremy Ranch. "I’ve got about six to eight inches of mud and trees in my driveway right now."

He was in his driveway at 4474 West Hidden Cove Road when a torrent of mud and debris turned from the street onto his property. The slide began almost 500 feet from his house when a chunk of saturated ground broke loose on a hillside.

"I was glad I was about 10 seconds before starting my car," Hottinger said. "It was moving fast when it went down my driveway."

After slamming into a nearby house, the stream of mud crossed the intersection at Hidden Cove Road and North Cove Road onto Hottinger’s land, then continued downhill into several yards.

"I just heard a roar. It sounded like a freight train," Hidden Cove resident Gonzo Bicksler said.

The mud took out vegetation and engulfed debris as it flowed hundreds of feet within seconds.

A fuel line was buried and a power pole downed in front of the home hardest hit by the mudslide, Park City Fire District spokeswoman Tricia Hurd said, adding that no damage was reported from the interior of the houses impacted by the slide.

"Power was kicked out through the whole area," Hurd said, adding that nobody was injured in the mudslide.

Hottinger said his neighbor had not moved back into the house on Monday.

"He doesn’t have power over there yet," Hottinger said. "The power pole is still leaning up against his house."

Near where the slide occurred, developers are planning to construct the Woods and Parley’s Lane, a new luxury subdivision. Hottinger opposed the project before the Summit County Commission approved the development application.

"They have to rethink what they’ve approved so it doesn’t affect the residents down below," Hidden Cove resident Jean Hottinger said.

Houses slated for construction near 30 percent slopes in the new subdivision could contribute to future mudslide activity in the area, Bicksler said, adding, "we’ve fought this project for a lot of reasons and this is one of them."

"[Developers] have the OK to move forward, but I think under the circumstances they need to re-look at everything," Hottinger said. "If they do build on those slopes we’ll have a house right down in the circle."

The final construction drawings for the Woods at Parley’s Lane have not been approved, Summit County Community Development Director Nora Shepard said.

"It’s hard to predict when soil becomes saturated, what it will do," Shepard said. "We don’t have any reason to believe that there is a lot of historic landslide activity anywhere in that area."

Construction at the Woods at Parley’s Lane, formerly known as Aspen Highlands, will not occur on slopes with grades steeper than 30 percent, she added.

"We specifically made sure all the building pads were outside of the 30 percent areas," Shepard said. "It’s a little bit difficult to say whether the same kinds of conditions exist in [the Woods at Parley’s Lane] that exist in Hidden Cove."

The cause of Saturday’s mudslide has not been determined, Summit County Public Works Superintendent Mark Offret said.

"I doubt it’s anything but natural causes because the soil is so wet," he added.

A few small mudslides often occur in the county each year, Offret said, adding, "this is just a little bigger than normal and it was close to a populated area."

"Now a lot of the subdivisions are being built out so the homes might be in a little danger because they’re built in places where they weren’t before," Offret said.

A Public Works crew was on scene Saturday cleaning up after the mudslide that occurred around 4:30 p.m.

"You can try to cover all the bases, but it’s just not possible. It’s nature," Offret said.

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