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Geologist says small La Conchita landslide will likely move further; evacuation orders remain for 4 homes

December 22, 2010 |  5:43 pm

A geologist said the small landslide above La Conchita would probably shift further -– even without rain -- prompting authorities to call for an indefinite evacuation of four homes in the area.

The homes at 6983, 6977, 6969 and 6967 Vista Del Rincon were evacuated Wednesday morning, and residents are not being allowed to return, said Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Bill Nash.

The mudslide, several miles north of previous large slides, covered an area of about 100 feet by 120 feet and uprooted several trees, officials said.

The Fire Department sent the geologist to the upper ridge of Rincon Mountain to inspect the ground movement and geologic conditions. Based on his report, authorities decided to keep residents out of the area.

"We're making sure we take all precautions necessary without overreacting unnecessarily," said Fire Division Chief Bryan Vanden Bossche.

La Conchita has been the site of two massive landslides in the last 15 years and is considered a high-risk area for mudslides during periods of intense rainfall. In 2005, 10 people were killed and 14 injured when a hillside above the community's 166 homes gave way after days of storms. Fifteen homes were destroyed and 16 were declared uninhabitable. A decade earlier, residents narrowly escaped injury when waterlogged earth buried or damaged seven homes.

Six inches of rain have fallen in La Conchita since Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

-- Catherine Saillant in La Conchita