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City Officials Warn Rattlesnake Area Residents of Further Avalanche Danger [AUDIO]

Rattlesake Avalanche
photo by Steve Karkanen

Missoula City Fire and Police Department officials are going door-to-door in the Rattlesnake area letting residents know of further avalanche danger.

City Fire Chief Jason Diehl said on Monday, March 3, that the primary effort is to get volunteers out of the slide area, for their own safety.

“Right now, what we’re trying to do is keep volunteers out of the area,” Diehl said. “We met wit Steve Karkanen with the avalanche center this morning along with the mayor and some of the other city departments. Basically, that gully has reloaded itself and is very unstable, so, this morning we barricaded the area of the original slide and recommended that all the volunteers stay out of the area.”

Diehl said other residents in the neighborhood are being advised of the continuing avalanche danger.

“Law enforcement will be going door to door to talk to people along that slope and remind that of the hazard that’s present,” Diehl said.

Missoula City Fire Chief Jason Diehl

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West Central Montana Avalanche Center Director Steve Karkanen explained the danger that still exists on Mount Jumbo.

“We assessed the snowpack on the slopes of Mount Jumbo yesterday and found a very weak snowpack structure,” Karkanen said. “Basically, with an ice base below all this heavier snow that we got during the blizzard, the problem that we are really concerned about is that we could get some rain water introduced into that snowpack, which will really make it unstable, and potentially create more avalanche problems for us on any of the steep terrain around Missoula.”

West Central Montana Avalanche Center Director Steve Karkanen

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Police officers are visiting homes east of Van Buren/Rattlesnake Drive from Elm Street to Herbert and on Harrison Street north of Elm Street to let residents know of heightened avalanche danger for at least the next 48 hours. The expected freezing rain or more snow will increase danger. There is no evacuation order. Voluntary evacuees can find shelter provided by the Red Cross at the First Baptist Church at Woody and West Pine streets. The Red Cross can be reached at 552-5934.

The announcement was made by the Missoula Police Department on Monday, March 3, that Michel Jo Colville had died as a result of her injuries from the avalanche.

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