Just a day after officials in Orange County declared a local state of emergency, residents of four residential structures in San Clemente were forced to evacuate after the collapse of a hillside at the rear of the properties.
Crews with the Orange County Fire Authority responded to the scene in the 1500 block of Buena Vista after receiving a 911 call about the landslide shortly after 8 a.m. Firefighters then conducted a search of three properties to ensure all residents were out of the buildings, authorities said.
Video shot by an OCFA drone after the evacuation showed the land beneath the structures still sliding down the hill. A swimming pool at the back of one of the properties can also be seen precariously close to the edge of the hillside collapse.
Clayton Robinson, the owner of the multi-unit apartment building that appears to have taken the biggest hit, said the whole hill is struggling to hold.
“We had a major retaining wall, and it went down and took about half of our yard with it, and we have a pool. It’s the pool that’s holding the rest of the yard in and the fire department right now is emptying the pool to take the pressure of the hill,” he said.
Robinson also told KTLA that it’s possible they will lose everything and that his insurance company said it does not cover the hillside’s collapse.
“So, all we have left is our faith in god, so we’re good, but it’s because of our faith, not because of our house,” Robinson said.
The mayor of San Clemente, who was at the scene, said landslides have been an issue for the entirety of the city’s coastline areas.
“Well, I mean, erosion along our coast is really something that affects San Clemente’s entire coast,” Mayor Chris Duncan told KTLA. “At the Cypress Shore community on the south side of town, we did have a slope failure there, which has been stabilized by a tieback system and we haven’t seen movement there. But along this stretch here, right along our beautiful beach trail here in San Clemente, if you walk on that trail, you can see that there has been loss on these slopes over time, so we’re concerned about the whole stretch.”
Buena Vista, from Avenida Florencio to Calle Colina and the trail below, have been closed.
“We are currently working with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and staff from the City of San Clemente to determine the severity of this landslide,” OCFA officials said, adding that a fourth building was also yellow-tagged and evacuated.
So far, no injuries have been reported.