Landslide, Boulder Cause Gas Line Break in Alpine

A more than 100-ton boulder smashed into the side of an Alpine business complex Sunday, rupturing a gas line and inflicting serious damage on the building.

Owners Kelli and Scott Thomas got a call from a friend Sunday saying there was something odd about their equipment rental business on Alpine Boulevard.

A boulder, estimated to weigh in at 247,000 pounds, had rolled down the hillside and crashed into the two-story building.

“It looks like it’s melting,” Kelli Thomas said of the building.

The boulder stands 11 feet wide and is taller than a single story home, repair crews say.

“It’s a huge, huge boulder,” Kelli said.

Heartland Fire officials responded to the gas line break and secured the area just after 10 a.m. Officials say there hasn't been significant rainfall so they're not sure what caused the rock to slide. 

When the Thomases built the business 15 years ago, they never considered the potential of a boulder rolling down the hill behind them.

“It was always, ‘They might come down,’” Scott said of a rockslide or mudslide. “Slow slide, or mud trickling, or something like that — but that’s more like a ‘boom’ than a slip.”

A crane operator told the owners that he can’t get the rock out of there until it’s pared down to 8.5 feet wide and 8.5 feet tall.

So for now, they’re making do – working out of a motorhome on the property.

The owners say they're just glad the business was closed at the time so no one was hurt.

“This we can fix,” Kelli said of the damage.

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