LAKE WHITNEY, Texas — A luxury house perched on a cliff with a spectacular view of Lake Whitney has started falling into the water.
The edge of the 4,000 square foot residence on Overlook Court was dangling about 75 feet above the rocky shoreline after part of it had already broken off. Soil and other debris could be seen falling occasionally from the foundation of the home.
Chief Deputy Mark Wilson confirmed that another chunk of the house broke off and fell just before 11 p.m. Tuesday. It was unclear how much of the structure was lost because of darkness.
Neighbors Connie Ash and Jackie McNamara live across the lake and heard the initial crash of the cliff into the water about 6:30 p.m.
"I immediately thought it was an earthquake or blasting; it was loud, really loud," Ash said. "And then I saw smoke, dust, water... I don't know, it was a huge cloud of stuff."
Then the two neighbors called 911, grabbed binoculars, and started watching. Ash said she could see the home's slow progression down the cliff.
"You used to look flush at the roof but then I could see it was somewhat down," she said. "You could see it... more and more of the top of the house that's moved. You're looking through the binoculars, just watching it."
Aerial images of the property showed a massive void underneath the center of the house, and significant fissures in the ground could be seen nearby on the same cliff.
A small sign reading EXTREME DANGER, STAY OFF PREMISES was placed in the front yard as neighbors looked on helplessly.
The Hill County Sheriff said a crack in the cliff nearby was noted about a year ago and the house was condemned. The sheriff's office said the owners of the property were advised to evacuate two weeks ago, and they moved out.
There is no way to predict if or when the rest of the cliff might give way, taking the home with it, but the sheriff said the soil was shifting at a fast pace on Tuesday night.
Tax records show the residence, in the White Bluff Resort subdivision, was built in 2007 and is valued at more than $700,000. It is owned by a couple with an Aubrey address. They will be responsible for the cleanup.
Lake Whitney is about 55 miles south of Fort Worth.