Massive landslide destroys California homes, prompts evacuations

SkyFox flew over Rolling Hills Estates where landslide destroys homes. 

Evacuations remain in place for more than a dozen homes Monday after a portion of a hillside gave way in Southern California over the weekend, destroying residences and threatening a dozen others.

The homes were red-tagged after firefighters and investigators found them visibly leaning over the weekend because of massive movement on the hillside in the Rolling Hills Estates neighborhood. The Los Angeles County community is on the northern side of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, facing Torrance.

The cracking Earth was discovered when fire crews responded to a home on Peartree Lane after someone reported a residential water leak around 4 p.m. Saturday. 

That's when they noticed cracks and structural damage both inside and outside the home, prompting further investigation, according to Craig Little with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The damage wasn't limited to that one house. 

Authorities ordered the evacuation of 12 homes. As of Monday, the number rose to 16 homes. 

Some residents said they heard cracks underneath their homes beginning Thursday.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said she was taken on a brief tour of the affected area Saturday night and saw the fissure winding its way through the affected homes.

"In my opinion, the land continues to move very quickly," she said during a Sunday news conference. "Since I've been here, I've been told the land has moved 6 feet."

Officials said at this time the 12 evacuated homes are not inhabitable and have sustained "substantial damage." They said they expect to see the damages extend further throughout the day.

Specialists and geologists are expected to assess the scene in the coming days.

Deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Lomita Station were patrolling the neighborhood "to ensure the evacuated homes are secure," Hahn said.

Authorities said they have extended the safety perimeter to protect adjacent homes and they have not noticed any changes to those nearby homes that are a cause for concern.

Gas service has been shut off in the area to all residents, while water and electricity has been cut to the specific units that have been evacuated.

"I have not seen anything like this in the area," "Hahn said. "Being here today and seeing this incredible movement… I've never seen anything like this."

Officials noted the homes are situated on a bluff on the edge of a hill that drops into a canyon about 50 feet below. There is a ravine behind the home and nothing at the bottom of that ravine. Walking trails in the area are blocked off.

The Red Cross is assisting the evacuated residents.

At least 12 homes were evacuated in Rolling Hills Estates along Peartree Lane next to the canyon area, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said

City News Service contributed to this report.