WEST END (KDKA) – A dangerous landslide shut down train traffic in the West End Friday morning and a boulder the size of a car came crashing down and narrowly sparked a serious emergency.
It’s hard to even describe the size of the boulders that came to a final rest at the bottom of the hill along West Carson Street.
If you believe in luck, it certainly came into play today when large chunks of shale and debris came crashing down.
They blocked the railroad tracks and came dangerously close to gases stored at a local business.
“About the size of a car,” Michael Mazziotti said. “It did some decent damage.”
Mazziotti owns Jackson Welding Supply on West Carson Street. One boulder crashed through the back of the business and landed just feat from pressurized tanks of nitrogen, oxygen and argon. It also narrowly missed a large propane tank nearby.
“We were pretty fortunate. A rock hit the building, put a hole in the wall, did some sheet metal damage. That’s about it. But, it did come close to some other things,” Mazziotti said.
“Very small amounts of flammable gas that could cause a significant fire,” Pittsburgh Assistant Fire Chief Tom Cook said. “They are stored under pressure so we would have some minor concerns if one of these pressure tanks were punctured.”
With that crisis averted, Norfolk Southern railroad crews were busy on the tracks trying to clear shale and debris, which brought train traffic to halt for about four hours.
Around 6 a.m., the first train slowly passed through after one track was cleared. With the stability still in question, Pittsburgh Public Works was trying to determine who was responsible for the hillside after noticing prior shoring work that was done near the site of the rockslide.
“We’ve never had a problem this big. We’ve had some rocks come down, but never anything this significant,” Mazziotti said.
The Pittsburgh Public Works Director said it will be up to whoever owns the hillside to determine whether or not it’s stable and make any necessary repairs.
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