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March 23, 2014 at 10:08 AM

‘When the slide hit the river, it was like a tsunami’

Eric Finzimer (left) and Jessica Nemnich (right) both volunteer firefighters, clean and re-check their equipment as they await instructions this morning, in the aftermath of the Highway 530 landslide at the Darrington Distrct 24 Firehouse on Sunday. (Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times)

Eric Finzimer (left) and Jessica Nemnich (right), both volunteer firefighters, clean and re-check their equipment at the Darrington District 24 Firehouse as they await instructions this morning, in the aftermath of the Highway 530 landslide. (Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times)

DARRINGTON – Search-and-rescue workers emerged from a debriefing meeting Sunday morning at Darrington’s Sno-Skagit Fire District 24 station dispirited and bleary-eyed.

One volunteer firefighter who stopped working around 11:30 last night said many tragic stories have yet to be told. He watched one rescuer find his own front door, but nothing else — not his home, his wife or his child.

They’re in the “missing” category along with many they fear will eventually be listed as dead. At least 20 homes were wiped out, he said.

“It’s much worse than everyone’s been saying,” said the firefighter, who did not want to be named. “The slide is about a mile wide. Entire neighborhoods are just gone When the slide hit the river, it was like a tsunami.”

Among the missing are a group of girls who were having a slumber party, said Peter Selvig, a retired U.S. Forest Service volunteer at the station.

MORE COVERAGE:

18 people unaccounted for in area hit by slide

3 die in mudslide east of Arlington, 6 homes destroyed

Five injured in slide are at Harborview Medical Center

Survivor tells of loud crack, wall of mud, house ‘in sticks’

Recent saturation of rain likely built up to fatal mudslide

WSDOT: Water surge could weaken bridge supports 

Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: Darrington, Oso mudslide


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