Water cascades over a mudslide near a home on Sugar Lake Road in Cherryville.

Water cascades over a mudslide near a home on Sugar Lake Road in Cherryville.

Cause unconfirmed in ‘terrifying’ Cherryville mudslide

Hillside collapses in Cherryville's Cherry Ridge, on Sugar Lake Road

It’s still not known why part of a Cherryville hillside collapsed, threatening a home.

A torrent of earth, rocks and trees came down from Cherry Ridge Tuesday at about 7:30 a.m. on Sugar Lake Road.

“We’re actively looking at it and getting a professional assessment,” said Murray Wilson, woodlands manager with Tolko Industries, which harvested trees above the slide area last winter.

Wilson is reluctant to say yet if logging weakened the soil and caused the slide, which was about 800 metres long and 10 metres wide.

“The geotechnical engineer will put those pieces together,” he said.

The flow of debris shifted about 200 feet before it would have collided with Joel Hriczu’s home.

“There was a freight train coming down through the trees,” said Hriczu.

“We ran out in our bare feet terrified.”

Hriczu and his wife are back in their home but they admit they aren’t sleeping well at night. Tolko doesn’t believe there is a risk of further slides.

“Our first concern is for the residents that live there. We want to give them some comfort,” said Wilson.

Hriczu’s water system was destroyed and there’s about 100 truck loads of debris covering his property. Access to the rear of his land has been cut off.

“There’s a massive waterfall next to the property that didn’t exist before,” he said.

“I have asked Tolko and the Ministry of Forests what they’re going to do. I need the mud scraped off my road and property and my life back.”

Wilson says Tolko is considering ways to assist the family.

“We want to do what’s right for Joel. Whether it’s us or not (cause), we want to be involved,” he said.

Eugene Foisy, Regional District of North Okanagan director for the area, hopes the cause of the slide can be determined.

“It’s definitely a concern for the people living there. It’s pretty scary,” he said.

“The ground is pretty unstable. There definitely has to be something done to stabilize the ground.”

The prospect of a slide impacting residents had local emergency officials on alert.

Six volunteers with North Okanagan Emergency Management were on stand-by after reports of the Cherry Ridge incident.

“A lot of people’s minds were going back to two years ago with the Oliver slide (homes were destroyed),” said Helen Sinclair, with NOEM.

“Had homes in Cherryville been evacuated, we would have set up an emergency operations centre.”

Given wet weather this week, NOEM is prepared to assist throughout the region if there are slides or flooding.

“It’s a situation where you sit and monitor,” said Sinclair.

The Ministry of Forests could not be reached for comment.