CHP: Multiple Landslides Block Traffic on Highway 50

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EL DORADO COUNTY -- It may not be until Sunday when Highway 50 is opened to traffic for both east and westbound traffic because of a massive mudslide that occurred late Friday afternoon.

As of Friday evening, eastbound traffic was being turned around at the Sly Park exit, but there may be options for drivers soon, according to the California Highway Patrol.

"We're hoping that some of the alternate routes will start opening up and we can start sending people that way," explained Officer Ian Hoey.

A massive clean up job, east of Pollock Pines and just west of Ice House Road, from an even bigger force of Mother Nature. Caltrans crews first had to assess the enormous task.

"First thing we're going to do is take a look at what's on the road, then we have to evaluate what's up the slope," explained Bob Ericksen with Caltrans. "There could be issues if we remove the toe of the slope, and something more comes down. I think by daylight we'll have a good assessment for what it's going to take to get the road cleared."

After walking the perimeter of the slide, which covered all four lanes of Highway 50 and stretched some 300 feet in length with trees, mud, and rocks, crews were still concerned that the hillside was unstable from all the recent storms and could shift again at any moment.

"Once we think it's safe enough, we'll start taking from the outside perimeters and then clearing a path in," Ericksen said.

Lost in all the debris was a red jeep that had been pinned up against a tree on the wrong side of the highway.

"Unfortunately, there was one vehicle that was caught up in the debris field as it was actively moving," explained CHP Sgt. Chris Davis. "The folks didn't drive into it. The slide occurred while they were in travel. They're OK. They were able to self-extricate and they were uninjured and transported to Pollock Pines."

And they will certainly have a very interesting tale to tell family and friends.

Crews are still working to clear the debris, closing the highway in both directions 8.4 miles east of Pollock Pines until Saturday, according to Caltrans.

To get to Tahoe, the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office recommends taking the detour on Highway 49 South, to Highway 88 East and then to Highway 89, Luther Pass.

Stay with FOX40 and as this story develops.

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