Voluntary evacuation orders on Tuesday, March 12 have been issued by Hinsdale County Sheriff’s Office in the wake of a series of devastating snowslides which have occurred south of Lake City along County Road 30 and following in excess of a foot of new snow which has fallen since Monday night.
The Lake Fork Valley’s worst slide occurred shortly after 6 am today, March 12, when a massive snowslide near sunshine falls, 12 1/2 miles south of Lake City on County Road 30 destroyed the home and barn of Hinsdale County Sheriff Justin Casey. Sheriff Casey was at home at the time of the snowslide, as were his daughters, Sarah, age 17, Kristi, age 15. Casey was able to swim through the snow to extricate his daughter Sarah.
Kristi was buried and had to be dug out by emergency personnel who arrived at the scene. All three injured were taken to Gunnison Valley Hospital for evaluation. Kristi’s injuries were not as serious as initially thought. All are currently doing well.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up as of Tuesday morning to assist the Casey family: https://www.gofundme.com/the-casey-family-lake-city-colorado to donate.
Both the Casey house, a 2,400 square foot 2 1/2 story frame home built in 2006 and 1500 square foot frame barn were swept away by the slide, the debris field stretching across County Road 30 into the adjoining field.
Hinsdale County Emergency Operations Center has been set up in Coursey Annex overseeing the multi-pronged emergency response. Emergency organizations assisting in the response are: Hinsdale County EMS, led by new Emergency Manager Troy Mead; Lake City Fire/Rescue, Hinsdale County Sheriff’s Office, Hinsdale County Search and Rescue, and Hinsdale Road and Bridge.
Both County Road 30 south from Williams Creek and County Road 20 up Henson Creek at the ice park have been closed to vehicular traffic in response to adverse weather conditions and additional snowslides. Multiple snowslides of varying size, together with “bank sloughs” have been reported on County Road 30. Heavy snows downed power lines along County Road 30 on the upper Lake Fork and the electricity is out.
Authorities are urging rural Hinsdale County residents to remain in their homes and limit travel, the exception being people who live in homes which are located at the base of steep slopes. Within the town of Lake City, voluntary evacuation orders have been issued for residents at the base of Neoga Mountain (West side of Bluff Street at the foot of Neoga Mountain) as of 1 pm Tuesday March 12, due to the prospect of severe avalanche conditions. Avalanche conditions are being reviewed on Tuesday afternoon by Ben Pritchett from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
Plans have been announced to open the Armory in Lake City as a shelter to displaced residents.