Missoula avalanche experts have completed their preliminary report (click here to read full report) on the Missoula avalanche that hit the Rattlesnake neighborhood almost two weeks ago.
The report explains the slide was triggered by a snowboarder who avoided being caught up in it by digging in his snowboard.
Three people were buried. One of the victims, Michel Colville, died. She was with her husband Fred Allendorf in their house when the slide hit and destroyed it. Allendorf is in fair condition in the hospital.
It also says the slide moved more than 2,000 feet before stopping in a neighborhood.
That’s the length of more than six football fields.
“In terms of how we classify the size of avalanches, on a scale of 1 to 5 we give this a rating of 4,” said West Central Montana Avalanche Center Specialist Steve Karkanen.
The report also discusses the difficulties of dealing with live power lines, broken natural gas lines.
“That's the big difference between backcountry avalanche incidents and urban avalanche incidents. We have houses, structures, people, power lines, natural gas lines, water and those kinds of things as well. That raises the complexity level pretty dramatically,” said Kakanen.
The report also reveals just how deep the avalanche victims were buried. 8-year-old Phoenix Scoles-Coburn was located roughly 3 feet deep in the show. Fred Allendorf was located 3 to 4 feet deep and Michel Colville was located 2 to 3 feet deep. The report says Allendorf told investigators he was three feet from Colville when their house was hit, and the report also says the two were found 25 feet apart. Colville later passed away from her injuries.
Investigators say the slide damaged three other homes, several vehicles and an apartment building.
Avalanche specialists will post their final report after the Missoula Police Department releases findings in its own investigation.