Officials Identify Two People Found Dead After Landslide, Explosion In Watauga County Last Month

The Latest:

WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. — Officials have released more information, including the names of the two people who were found dead, following a landslide and explosion in Watauga County last month.

James “Jim” Lanford and Audri Lanford were identified as the victims located in the debris of the collapsed home at 201 Pine Ridge in the Heavenly Mountain Community on May 30th, 2018.

Following the accident, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, Boone Fire Department, Watauga County Fire Marshal’s Office, ATF and the NC Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Fire Investigations Unit began a joint investigation to determine the chain of events that led to the devastation of the home.

Investigators have determined that sometime around midday on May 30, 2018,  Mr. and Mrs. Lanford noticed a landslide that encroached on the residence and impacted the Liquefied Petroleum gas regulator that serviced the home.

At approximately 2:30 pm a strong odor of Liquefied Petroleum gas was detected in the area of 201 Pine Ridge.

At 4:30 pm, Mr. Lanford contacted Suburban Propane by phone, and they turned off the Liquefied Petroleum supply at the tank.   The Lanford’s attempted to remove gas fumes by ventilating the residence at that time.

The power to a back up water heater at the home was turned on around 5:08 pm, and at 5:11 pm an explosion was reported to the Watauga County 911 center.

Investigators say the investigation was lengthy due to the complexity of the investigation, unstable conditions, and complications of severe weather.  The given timeline was established based on the evidence and facts uncovered
during the investigation.

Original Story:

BOONE, N.C. — Two people are dead after a landslide in the Heavenly Mountain Community in Watauga County.

Multiple crews were sent around 5 p.m. on Wednesday to a home on Pine Ridge Drive after reports of a landslide. The home had collapsed and ended up destroyed. Two people were found dead in the rubble.

The landslide was caused by a gas leak.

The name of the victims are not being released until family has been notified.

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 Medic, 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, Clairmont Fire Department, Alexander County Rescue Squad, USAR Taskforce – Buncome County.

The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.

Check back for updates.