Family displaced after hillside collapse in Pacific Palisades

Leon Faynsod couldn’t believe his eyes as he looked down at his house after the hillside from the yard above gave way. All he could say were two words: "I’m speechless!"

In the 15 years he’s lived just below Las Lomas Avenue in Pacific Palisades, he said he’s never seen anything like the slide that moved right into the backside of his home. He and his family were asked to evacuate the house. They're now living with loved ones.

It was almost 8 p.m. Sunday night when there was what the Los Angeles Fire Department called a "slough off," that’s when the uppermost layers of soil slide. It wasn't even raining when the hill fell. 

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Matt Thomas is a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He said "this time of year, when we’ve had above average rainfall consistently throughout the rainfall season — this parade of atmospheric rivers..." can cause a slide like this.

They can happen days and even weeks after there’s been a heavy rainfall. Thomas called this one in Pacific Palisades a "deep seeded" landslide, which is different from a shallow one that can trigger quickly.

"They're very sensitive to longer spans of above average rainfall," he said. Thomas added that landslides are possible even without rain, but rain on steep slopes just makes matters worse. 

"On those steep slopes in an active geological setting you have relatively deep soil and rocks, so they're kind of sitting there in relatively deep state until the most common trigger is rainfall," Thomas said.

Doug Given is a geophysicist with USGS, and said there are signs to look for if you live on a hillside. 

"If you start to see signs of distress in your home, unusual cracks and concrete opening up and your windows and doors don't quite shut as they used to and you live in an area that's got a slope then you want to be particularly vigilant that you don't see signs that things are going mobile," he said.