KASLO — Search and rescue teams have returned to Kaslo after searches for the missing Johnsons Landing residents resumed this afternoon.
For the first time since the slide yesterday, crews were able to get into the house where the a man, his two daughters and a German tourists believe to be before the slide.
Vancouver fire chief John McKearney who is heading up the Heavy Urban Search and Rescue teams said that his team was able to get into part of the house around 2 p.m. today but did not locate any of the individuals.
“We’re working extremely hard and they know that their mission is finding those people that are that are missing at this time,” said McKearney.
The Heavy Urban Search and Rescue team was working with heavy machinery including axes, torches, saws and shovels close to the identified home.
“We’re going to one particular house first,” said Sgt. Darryl Little with the Kootenay-Boundary RCMP. “It is the last known location of the individuals.”
Even though there are four people currently missing, they were all believed to be in the same location, said Little.
McKearney said that because the initial search of the upper floors of the house were unsuccessful they are now focusing on the lower floors and cellar.
The Heavy Urban Search and Rescue team had been on stand by until this morning and were in Kaslo within two hours.
McKearney said that his team was working at an “agreeable” time when they arrived at the landslide.
The four people are still unaccounted for and even though darkness had fallen over Kaslo when teams returned for the night, all the officials involved agreed that they are still involved in a rescue mission and not one of recovery.
“From our perspective this is a rescue mission, and I firmly believe we are all the same page, the mission is on going as we speak and SAR’s people have been up there since the beginning,” said McKearney.
The weather forecast seemed ominous but rains and a projected thunder and lighting storm held off.
“We’ve been able to find people after longer periods of time than this,” said McKearney. “We’ve all seen miracles happen, I’m not saying that we’re looking for a miracle, what I’m saying is this is still a rescue from our perspective.”
Despite initial searches following the slide on Thursday morning, there had been little search activity in Johnsons Landing until the arrival of the Heavy Urban Search and Rescue teams.
“The instability of the landslide has been an ongoing problem for search and rescue teams since the call first came in,” said Ian Cummings from Emergency Management BC. “A search and rescue group that was flying over head noticed that the slide was still active and that delayed some of their progress.”
There had been smaller slides at the same site through out the day, but Sam Ellison of the Regional District of Central Kootenay said that there was no additional property damage from the other slides.
Geo-technicians were brought back into the site to evaluate the slide before search and rescue teams were brought back in, and the geo-technicians are still on site monitoring any changes in stability.
Cummings said teams have identified evacuation routes and the safety of responders is a priority.
“My understanding is that the search started again when the Heavy Urban crews arrived, but they did have responders and teams up there monitoring and we relied on the geo-technician to make sure that it was safe because the slide changed drastically over night and into this morning,” said Little.
Officials are still unclear on what caused the slide.
More to come from reporter Megan Cole who is in Kaslo.