BOONE — Officials spent May 31 assessing a catastrophic event where two people were confirmed dead after a home collapsed in the Heavenly Mountain community near Boone the night before.
Personnel from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were asked to analyze the situation the day after the May 30 incident.
Boone Fire, the Watauga Fire Marshal’s Office, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and Watauga Medics initially responded to the scene in the Heavenly Mountain community in Boone at a collapsed structure where two people were reportedly entrapped.
At approximately 5:15 p.m. first responders rushed to the scene of a landslide into a single-family dwelling — located at 201 Pine Ridge — resulting in “catastrophic destruction of the structure from a gas leak,” according to Boone Police Sgt. Shane Robbins, who is serving as spokesperson for the incident.
The call initially came from dispatch as an explosion at the residence, according to scanner traffic.
An update on the cause or the exact sequence of events was not available as of press time Thursday evening. Officials said they could not yet confirm if an explosion had occurred.
Robbins stated that search and rescue operations were initiated when Boone Fire arrived, and two victims were located dead in the rubble.
The names of the victims have not been released at this time. Release of the names was pending notification of next of kin, according to Robbins. The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting the death investigation. Robbins stated there were no other occupants in the structure.
Debris from the home — such as glass, window panes and wood — was strewn above the embankment overlooking the backside of the house. The embankment appears to be where the landslide originally started. Part of the house was still remaining — including a garage and a room above.
First responders and investigators battled high levels of rain and wind while on scene both the day of the incident and the day after.
“We would like to thank everyone that responded to help during this tragic event,” Robbins said in a statement.
Agencies that responded to the event were Boone Fire Department, Boone Police Department, Blowing Rock Fire Department, Blowing Rock Police Department, Watauga Sheriff’s Office, Watauga Medics, Watauga Rescue, Watauga County Emergency Management, Watauga County Communications, Boone Public Works Department, Blowing Rock Public Works Department, Red Cross, Foscoe Fire Department, Cove Creek Fire Department, Linville Central Rescue Squad, Fleetwood Fire Department, Champion Fire Department, Caldwell County Emergency Services, Lenoir Fire Department, Claremont Fire Department, Alexander County Rescue Squad and USAR Taskforce — Buncombe County.
This story is developing. For updated information, check wataugademocrat.com.