Boulder crashes through wall of hillside home

April 11, 2009 5:29:48 PM PDT
A large boulder tumbled down a Provo hillside Saturday and bounced through the second-story wall of a house before crashing through the floor into a basement-level garage. Provo Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Jeremy Craft said the four-story home is for sale and was empty at the time.

"But it is something to see," he said.

Neighbor Dave Nagel said he was working in his yard when he heard a rumbling sound. He looked up to see the rock bounding down the hillside. Nagel said he watched as the rock bounced and went airborne. It then crashed through a wall of the house and struck the dining room ceiling before smashing into another wall and dropping through the floor. It came to rest in the garage.

Nagel said the jagged boulder appeared to be about 10 feet wide.

"The funny part about it is that the part of the outside wall that it hit had just been remodeled with new siding and windows," he said.

The boulder could weigh as much as 1,000 pounds and would fill the back of a pickup truck, said property manager Carl Cauffman, who added that the house is in foreclosure and has been empty for several months.

"It left a hole in the back yard that was probably 8 to 10 inches deep and about 4 feet around," he said. "We're just glad no one got hurt."

Craft said there is no explanation for what happened.

"I can't imagine that it was man-caused," he said. "It could have been rain washing away some soil, and it could also be that it's been sitting there teetering for years and this was just the day."

A house just to the south was struck by a boulder and similarly damaged in 2005, he said. On Saturday, at least two other large rocks also came down the same hill. One damaged a playhouse nearby, Craft said.

Firefighters had not entered the home and were waiting for city building officials to inspect the property.

Nagel estimates the home is about 6,000 square feet. He said he tried to buy the property four years ago when he moved to Utah from California.

"The guy didn't want to negotiate," he said. "He wanted $389,000. Now it's worth about, oh, 50 bucks."

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