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Landslide in Palos Verdes Estates triggers beach closure

Crews continue to survey cliff in Palos Verdes Estates following massive landslide
Crews continue to survey cliff in Palos Verdes Estates following massive landslide 02:57

A landslide along the Palos Verdes cliff-lined coast erupted around 10 a.m., prompting a beach closure as a portion of the cliff fell to the beach below.

Palos Verdes Estates landslide
Massive landslide lands on the sand below in Rancho Palos Verdes. CBSLA

Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to a "public assist" call at around 10 a.m., when a passerby reported the first landslide along the Palos Verdes Estates coast adjacent to Torrance Beach. 

"We were sitting there calmly, and the next thing you know, there's just dirt on the hillside and lots of smoke and dust flying through the air," said Tim French, who witnessed the event.

A Los Angeles County Beaches and Harbors maintenance worker rushed to the scene of the landslide, parking next to the lifeguard tower.

Our Sky9 chopper was investigating the area in response to the call when they caught the landslide in progress.

Rocks and dust were seen rushing down the cliff, near the RAT (Right After Torrance) lifeguard tower and into the worker's truck below, pushing it nearly 30 feet from the spot it was first parked.

The truck was unoccupied and no injuries were reported. The City of Palos Verdes Estates reported that engineering geologists and city staff will evaluate soil, rock, and groundwater conditions to evaluate the safety of the area and nearby structures.

"When the rock pulls away, the cliff behind is going to expand some, it's going to fracture more, it weakens, and it's very typical after a big landslide, to have a lot more landslides follow it," said Dr. Pat Abbot, a geologist. "Once one occurs in an area, back off."

Abbot says that the incoming storm front could bring even more danger to the area in coming days. 

"Sea levels are rising, gravity is pulling, and now when you talk about heavy rains coming in this week, might that be a danger? Oh definitely. That's going to add to the problem," he said. 

One homeowner, who lives just above the point where the earth gave way, was evacuated.

No injuries have been reported.

The beach has been closed and officials say the public should avoid the area until it is deemed safe as crews attempt to clear the debris in the area. 

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