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Santa Clarita Landslide Buckles Road, Prompts Indefinite Closure

SANTA CLARITA ( — Vasquez Canyon Road in Santa Clarita will remain closed until further notice due to a landslide, officials said Friday.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, the landslide caused a 200-foot stretch of roadway to buckle in the area around noon Thursday.

Crews immediately shut off electricity and closed the area to the public.

A geologist was called to determine what triggered the slide.

"Cracks are active and continue to expand," explained Steven Frasher of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. "Hour by hour, the adjacent hillside continues to slip undermining the pavement, actually coming underneath the pavement and uplifting it."

There are no homes or buildings in the immediate area.

Temple City Councilman William Man, a civil engineer, captured a photo of a geologist investigating road deformations in the area.

The movement was initially reported Thursday as what Frasher called a "deviation of the roadway" and grew more pronounced throughout the afternoon.

In less than 24 hours, the roadway buckled and shot up 12-15 feet, taking down power poles and road signs with it.

"I've seen slides before, but this is actually the biggest slide I've ever seen," a road maintenance superintendent said. "It's pretty amazing."

Geologists have no idea what is causing the slide. "There's no recent really obvious cause. There was no seismic activity on Thursday in this area," said Frasher.

But Geology Professor at the College of the Canyons Vincent Devlahovich believes the recent rain saturated the sponge-like rocks, causing them to slide. He predicts it will get worse.

"If we get El Nino like they're predicting, I read today about a 50% chance, that canyon could be a real mess. Once it starts, it would tend to happen more easily the second time," Devlahovich said.

The roadway will remain closed between Lost Creek Road and Vasquez Way. People who use Vasquez Canyon Road regularly are urged to use Sierra Highway as an alternate route.

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