Large Avalanche Hits California's Busy Mammoth Ski Resort

Three people were initially buried in the avalanche, but were able to free themselves.

A large avalanche roared down a slope on Mammoth Mountain in California on Saturday morning.

Though there were no reports of injuries or people missing by late afternoon, rescuers continued to search for any possible victims.

“Essentially the top of the mountain came loose,” skier Barbara Maynard told The Los Angeles Times. She said it was quickly “pandemonium” as ambulances, police and fire trucks roared in, and ski patrol members traveled up the mountain on snowmobiles. Witnesses reported trees broken and fences flattened or buried.

Three people, including a resort worker, were partially buried but managed to free themselves and were uninjured, according to the resort. The slope was closed to skiing when the avalanche hit, but the snow pushed into an area open to the public.

Mammoth was shut down for the day, but operators said they hope to reopen Sunday. The resort is located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range about 300 miles north of Los Angeles.

A first wave of searches using dogs and digital readers did not locate any other victims, but rescuers continued to walk the mountain and probe the snow on Saturday evening.

The avalanche came on the heels of another one Friday at Squaw Valley near Lake Tahoe that injured two people. A major storm front packing high winds and dropping from four to six feet of snow is currently hitting the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The Mammoth avalanche hit when ski patrols were conducting “avalanche hazard mitigation work,” according to the resort. That usually includes explosions to knock unstable snow off overhangs before they fall naturally and trigger avalanches.

“A full investigation is ongoing,” the resort said in statement.

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