Lurch in Wyoming Landslide Splits House

PHOTO: A home damaged by a landslide Friday, April 18, 2014 in Jackson, Wyo. is shown in this aerial image provided by Tributary Environmental.PlayTributary Environmental/AP Photo
WATCH Landslide Rips Houses, Roads Apart

A sudden shift in a slow-moving landslide in Jackson, Wyo., has residents rattled and experts looking for answers.

The movement Friday created a fracture several feet deep in the ground beneath a house in the northwestern Wyoming town, splitting it in two.

Workers, who have been trying to stabilize the 100-foot-high hillside since early April, were forced to suspend their efforts. Several other homes and businesses were also threatened by the abrupt land movement.

PHOTO: A house breaks apart as a slow-moving landslide in Jackson, Wyo. advances downhill on Friday, April 18. 2014. Jackson Hole News and Guide, Angus M. Thuermer Jr/AP Photo
A house breaks apart as a slow-moving landslide in Jackson, Wyo. advances downhill on Friday, April 18. 2014.

Officials began to notice significant land changes on April 4. The ground was shifting an inch a day by April 9, and authorities were forced to evacuate 42 houses and apartments in the area.

On Friday the land shift had increased to a foot a day, with flutters of rocks and dirt falling steadily down the hill.

PHOTO: Significant damage from a rockslide in Jackson, Wyoming is shown in this photo from the Town of Jackson.Town of Jackson
Significant damage from a rockslide in Jackson, Wyoming is shown in this photo from the Town of Jackson.

The lurch created ruptures in a road and a paved Walgreens parking lot at the foot of the hill and pushed a small town water pump building about 15 feet from where it formerly stood.

Landslide specialist George Machan said at a town meeting Friday that despite the damage already caused, it is unlikely the sudden movement will cause a landslide akin to the devastation wreaked by the Oso, Wash., landslide on March 22, which killed 39 people.

PHOTO: Significant damage from a rockslide in Jackson, Wyoming is shown in this photo from the Town of Jackson.Town of Jackson
Significant damage from a rockslide in Jackson, Wyoming is shown in this photo from the Town of Jackson.

Machan said geologists were still examining the cause of the ground movement and that in the meantime it is likely the earth will continue to fall, creating an ongoing threat, especially to the four homes, two apartment buildings and four businesses in the high risk zone directly below the hill.

PHOTO: Significant damage from a rockslide in Jackson, Wyoming is shown in this photo from the Town of Jackson.Town of Jackson
Significant damage from a rockslide in Jackson, Wyoming is shown in this photo from the Town of Jackson.

"Is it weeks? Is it longer? I really don't know," Machan said. "I think it's really unpredictable how long it might take. I don't expect it to end in a day."

PHOTO: Significant damage from a rockslide in Jackson, Wyoming is shown in this photo from the Town of Jackson.Town of Jackson
Significant damage from a rockslide in Jackson, Wyoming is shown in this photo from the Town of Jackson.

The AP contributed to this report.

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