Snowboarder blamed for triggering avalanche that destroyed Montana home, buried 3 people

A snowboarder is believed to have triggered the avalanche that destroyed a home in Montana and buried three people.

The avalanche swept down Mount Jumbo and into Missoula Friday afternoon.

The wall of snow was probably going 120 mph when it wiped out Fred Allendorf and Michel Colville’s house, according to the local newspaper.

“All it was waiting for was a trigger, and we got that with the snowboarder,” West Central Montana Avalanche Center director Steve Karkanen told the Missoulian. "He was on a slab probably 2 or 3 feet deep. It collapsed with a whoomp and he started to go for a ride. He got caught in it for a while, but got free.”

Allendorf and Colville were inside their home and 8-year-old Phoenix Scoles-Coburn was playing nearby outside when avalanche came down the mountain, the Missoulian reported.

Within minutes, dozens of neighbors and approximately 50 emergency personnel were searching through the snow and debris, in spite of the danger from broken natural gas lines and fallen power lines.

The boy was found about an hour into the search.

Search teams found Allendorf an hour later, trapped under what was left of his brick chimney.

Colville was trapped for about three hours before being rescued.

Experts said all three survived because they were caught in air pockets in the debris.

Allendorf had been upgraded to serious condition by Saturday afternoon and Scoles-Coburn was in fair condition, the Missoulian reported. Colville was in critical condition.

Authorities say avalanche conditions around the city remain dangerous. Police are asking residents of vulnerable neighborhoods to consider leaving but aren't requiring or recommending evacuations.

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