3 missing after massive Colorado mudslide

Three people are missing after a mudslide that is estimated to be 250 feet deep in many places.

"Massive is an understatement," said Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey. He said the three missing were sent up to investigate disrupted irrigation. They were traveling in a vehicle and a 4-wheeler when a second mudslide occurred.

"I know they're residents of what we call the Collburn-Mesa area," Heather Benjamin with the Mesa County Sheriff''s Office said. "Those are two small towns up there on the Grand Mesa, which to us would typically indicate that they're familiar with the terrain. They're probably very outdoorsy, probably very prepared for the severe weather and being stuck in the mountains overnight, and those kinds of things."

The first reports of the mudslide came into the Grand Junction Regional Communication Center about 6:15 p.m. Sunday. Mesa County officials say the mudslide is 2 miles wide and 4 miles long and about 250 feet deep in many places. Deputies describe the area as very unstable, and estimate that an entire ridge has been sliding for most of Sunday.

"This slide is unbelievably big," said Lt. Phil Stratton with the Mesa County Sheriff's Office.

Plateau Valley Fire Department responded to the area of Salt Creek Road, near Vega Reservoir, on the Grand Mesa. This area is just east of the small town of Collbran. A witness who called into dispatch described hearing a noise that sounded much like a freight train that is attributed to the slide.

The area is very remote and no structures have been reported damaged so far, and a more accurate assessment will be established Monday morning. I-70 is approximately 26 miles north of the slide and has not been impacted.

Rain has fallen in Mesa County most of the day and likely contributed to the cause of the slide. Citizens are highly discouraged from going into the area and a road block has been established at the intersection of Highway 330 and Salt Creek Road, outside the town of Collbran for safety.


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