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UPDATE – Emergency Crews Clear Avalanche Scene – Elderly Couple Identified

Missoula Avalanche
photo courtesy of NBC Montana-KECI-TV

UPDATE – Missoula Police Department Public Information Officer Travis Welsh issued a press release at about 2:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 1.

Avalanche Update; Saturday March 1, 2014

As of 2:00AM this morning, emergency crews have cleared from the scene of the avalanche. Power lines have been secured, and the gas lines have been capped. There is no information currently available regarding the medical condition of the three persons rescued, they remain hospitalized. There is continued concern that the unstable snow conditions in the Missoula Valley may produce other slides and citizens are advised to stay out of closed areas.

Detectives have conducted interviews in an investigative effort to determine if the avalanche was caused by human activity, however at this time no determination has been made. Those efforts are continuing. Anyone with information as to the cause of the slide is asked to contact Detective Dean Chrestenson at (406) 552-6705, or Detective Guy Baker at (406) 552-6284. You may also call Missoula Crime-Stoppers at (406) 721-4444.

Our news partners at NBC Montana-KECI-TV have identified the elderly couple as Fred Allendorf and his wife, Michel Jo Colville. They were listed in critical condition Friday night at St. Patrick hospital. On Saturday morning, the hospital upgraded Allendorf to serious condition.

The identity and condition of the eight year-old boy injured in the slide are still unknown.

UPDATE – Paige Pavalone with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office confirmed at 7:30 p.m. that all three victims of Friday afternoon’s Rattlesnake area avalanche have been recovered, and all are alive.

Pavalone said the elderly couple lived in a house on Harrison Street that was also struck by the slide, and the eight year-old boy who was playing in his back yard when the slide hit, have all been taken to St. Patrick Hospital. Pavalone said their conditions are unknown, but all were alive when transported to the hospital. She said officials are waiting for an update from the hospital.

Friday afternoon, February 28, an avalanche partially buried a home on Holly Street in the Rattlesnake area of Missoula, and there are conflicting reports about how many people were inside.

Missoula County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Paige Pavalone said an eight year-old child was recovered from the home at about 5 p.m.

“The avalanche occurred within the city limits on Holly Drive,” Pavalone said. “Missoula County Search and Rescue along with Flathead Search and Rescue crews with their dogs are on the scene at this time. We just learned at about 5 p.m. that a child was recovered from the avalanche and taken to St. Patrick Hospital for treatment. It is unknown if there were other people in the home at the time the avalanche struck. We will keep people updated with any information that comes our way.”

Missoula Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Paige Pavalone

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Missoula City Fire’s Jeff Brandt said the slide did major damage to the home.

“The slide came down off Mount Jumbo and from what I understand half or more buried a house and tore the gas line off,” Brandt said. “Some victims were buried, as well, but we’re not sure how many. Our command post tells us the eight year-old has been recovered, but efforts are still being made to complete the search.”

Word has just been received that a chaplain has been called to the scene.

An elderly couple has also been reported missing near the avalanche scene.

Missoula City Fire’s Jeff Brandt

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