Tahoe avalanche at Alpine Meadows

A photo from Squaw Valley shows that the area got more than a little snow in its most recent storm. Photo: Courtesy of Squaw Valley

A large avalanche Thursday morning near the Alpine Meadows ski resort in the Lake Tahoe area of California struck a bus and pushed it 30 feet into a house, forcing authorities to come to the rescue of three people, according to local officials.

“North Tahoe Fire and Squaw Valley Fire units responded at approximately 7:50 this morning to a reported avalanche in the Alpine Meadows area. One structure was damaged and 2 vehicles were involved, three people were quickly rescued, no injuries have been reported,” a statement from the North Tahoe Fire Protection Division read today.

“Emergency units remain on scene, the area is currently secured. We are in a high-avalanche period and people are asked to remain out of the area. Alpine Meadows Road may be closed for an extended period of time. Residents in the area should avoid unnecessary travel.”

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The avalanche, which buried Alpine Meadows Road (the route the bus was driving on) under five feet of snow, was the result of a heavy winter storm that tore through the area on Thursday, dumping as much as 24 inches of snow on nearby ski resorts.

Combined with the heavy winds that closed Alpine Meadows and suspended operations at its sister Squaw Valley resort, the conditions in the Lake Tahoe area are extremely treacherous and have rescue officials warning people in the area to beware.

“The new snow has created a very high to extreme level of avalanche risk in avalanche-prone areas,” a release from the Squaw Valley Fire Department read. “If you are in the high-risk avalanche area in Squaw Valley, we strongly recommend avoiding outdoor activity in exposed areas.”

Alpine Meadows Road remained closed into Thursday afternoon as crews worked to remove the debris and heavy snow that blanketed the road from the avalanche. Ron Carson, a spokesman with the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, told the San Francisco Chronicle that ski patrols at both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows were working to mitigate active avalanche activity in the area.

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