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Caltrans Monitoring Echo Summit After Multiple Rockslides

STRAWBERRY (CBS13) — In a decade of business, Strawberry Station General Store has withstood closures on Highway 50 due to avalanches, accidents, rockslides, and more recently, the Caldor Fire.

On Friday, nearly 24 hours into a closure of Highway 50 in El Dorado County due to a rockslide, the store was open and customers trickled in slowly.

The owners are lucky, they say, their business survived the Caldor Fire and so did their home. And with a closure on the main highway that runs right by the front door of their store, "There are worse things," said owner "Squirrel" Schlosser.

At Echo Summit Friday morning, a boulder the size of a cabin and two other large boulders sat in the road. It had been there since Thursday night. Due to the boulder's size, Caltrans decided to rig it with explosives and break it up.

Even as snow started to fall early in the morning, crews were drilling into the boulder to get it ready to be detonated.

The explosion happened a little after 10 a.m. and broke the large boulder into many smaller – but much more manageable – pieces, just as planned.

Caltrans announced a little before 3 p.m. Friday that Highway 50 was fully back open in both directions. 

Back at Strawberry Station, tourists bought pizzas, hot dogs, candy, and supplies for the night they planned to spend indoors watching movies and playing board games. It wasn't the original plan, but they were hopeful the highway would open before Saturday.

It did.

By 4 p.m. on Friday CalTrans crews had blasted the largest boulder and moved the remaining pieces out of the road. A team of geologists reviewed the side of the rocky mountain where the rocks fell from to determine the safety before reopening.

Within four hours of reopening, CalTrans tweeted there was another smaller rockslide in the same area. Traffic was temporarily held in both directions but has since been allowed to pass through.

CalTrans will monitor the area at Echo Summit into next week.

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