Mudslide hits Fairmont Hot Springs, B.C.

A mudslide hit Fairmont Hot Springs, B.C., Sunday afternoon, forcing the closure of a local road and the evacuation of a nearby resort.

Highway 93/95 was closed in both directions at Fairmont Hot Springs Road for several hours. At least one person was airlifted to safety by helicopter, police said.

Marke Dickson with the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort told CBC News witnesses reported hearing a loud sound like a train rumbling fairly close by at about 4:30 p.m. PT. Rushing water, debris, trees and rocks were its source.

"There's been a massive buildup of water," Doug Clovechok, the Liberal candidate for the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding, told CBC News from the small B.C. town on Sunday afternoon.

"The small creek that runs down through Fairmont Hot Springs Resort … formed a natural dam and backwater must have built up … but then it released, and the wall of water that came down through this canyon is beyond belief. The mud is above the creek bed maybe 30 feet," he said.

"It's just a small little creek. You could actually walk across it and maybe get up to your knees at the deepest spot and right now, if I was to go into this creek, I would be flushed away."

'Beyond belief'

Clovechok said several homes were evacuated, as was the Fairmont Mountainside resort.

He said the south side of the neighbouring campground was cut off from the rest of the resort. Officials were working to bring in heavy equipment to patch the road, and an RCMP helicopter was en route to airlift people across the water if necessary.

"Right now, according to RCMP, all people are accounted for … It's absolutely amazing given the number of people that are at this resort," he said. "It's amazing that everybody is accounted for and safe."

Clovechok said the raging creek was flowing directly into the Columbia River.

"[There are] huge boulders being pushed across what was a tiny little creek. I'm looking down below me here where a little road used to be — it's just covered with mud. This stream, which is usually a very quiet little stream, is just raging right now," he said.

"It's far from stable … I live not far from Fairmont so I'm very familiar with this place and I've never seen anything like this in this creek before."

Clovechok compared the slide to last week's landslide in Johnsons Landing, B.C., which flattened several homes and left four people missing, saying the event was "different but equal in proportion."

"There's millions of dollars of damage done here to the resort, and it's beyond belief."