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Avalanche levels Montana house; at least 2 rescued

10:22 PM, Feb 28, 2014   |    comments
Courtesy: KECI
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MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -- An avalanche roared into a residential neighborhood in the western Montana city of Missoula on Friday and destroyed a house, but at least two people were found alive, police said.

The survivors were an elderly man and an 8-year-old boy, police Sgt. Travis Welsh said.

The Missoula County Sheriff's Office said in a tweet that a third person had also been found alive - a woman who was missing after the avalanche. City police, who were in charge of the scene, didn't immediately respond to phone calls seeking confirmation.

The conditions of the man and boy weren't immediately known, but Welsh said earlier that the man was talking with rescuers.

The man and the woman, whose relationship wasn't immediately known, lived in the house destroyed by the avalanche, which struck at about 4 p.m. Police weren't sure if the boy lived there or elsewhere.

No names have been released.

Neighbors and the first responders to reach the scene dug frantically through the snow and debris, the Missoulian reported.

Firefighters with avalanche probes - long poles used to penetrate the snow to find victims - then took over, and the boy was pulled from the snow at about 5:15 p.m.

The man was found about an hour later.

The neighborhood is in northeastern Missoula at the foot of Mount Jumbo. A natural gas leak was also reported in the area, and utility crews were summoned.

Cheryl McMillan, who lives near the house that was destroyed, told the Missoulian she heard a roar, but didn't know what it was at first.

"Then, when we looked again, we saw that their whole house was kind of no longer there, at least the top floor," she said.

McMillan said she has lived in the neighborhood for 31 years and has never seen an avalanche before.

An avalanche team was en route to the area to assess the danger of another slide, Welsh said.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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