Gov. Inslee takes first tour of landslide area south of Yakima

Jan 7, 2018, 10:07 PM | Updated: 10:15 pm

By Deborah Horne, KIRO 7

On a clear day, the crack in Rattlesnake Ridge is actually visible from the highway.

The governor couldn’t see it in Sunday’s mist and low clouds, either, but he says just being here and hearing from the experts living with this everyday gives him confidence that this is no Oso.

“That was mud,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “This is solid rock. Unfortunately it’s fractured. But it’s all moving together. Big difference.”

It is a difference that came into sharp relief for Inslee.

This is his first tour of the landslide area just south of Yakima. He and Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz took pains to say that the Rattlesnake Ridge landslide is very different from the deadly Oso landslide that took 43 lives three years ago.

“And this one we have more time to prepare,” Franz said, “and understand what’s going on and respond to it.”

Moreover, the state plans to hire a fourth, this time independent, geologist to help assess the risk.

“This is to try to give the public more confidence and bringing in other eyes,” Inslee said. “But I will say, to me, at least, we have very impressive monitoring through these multiple systems.”

This drone video shows the deep fissure in the 1800 foot hillside. The Pacific Seismic Network has installed four sensors. They indicate the slide is growing at 1.4 feet per week.

A graphic the Department of Natural Resources sent has arrows showing the direction geologists believe the slide will go. Shipping containers filled with cement have been brought in to try to stop the debris from tumbling onto Interstate 82.

Still, Inslee acknowledges they face an enormous challenge.

“There is no force that we have on Earth that can totally control this,” he said. “But this is going to continue for some time. And we’re going to do the best we can to protect the public.”

About 50 people living in the slide zone have been evacuated. They could be out of their homes for a month or more.

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Gov. Inslee takes first tour of landslide area south of Yakima