- Associated Press - Friday, January 7, 2011

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (AP) — The land behind six hillside homes overlooking a Southern California golf course has given way and authorities on Friday red-tagged four of them, prohibiting residents from entering.

The slide was within about 10 feet of the homes in the city in southern Orange County, so “there could be some more failures out there” that could affect the structures, said City Engineer Bill Cameron, who decided to tag the homes after a geologist examined the hillside.

The slide opened a 25- to 50-foot vertical drop onto the golf course below, Cameron said.

Two homes were affected but will not be red-tagged, Cameron said.

Firefighters on Friday morning found the crumbled land near the back patios of the homes, said Greg McKeown of the county’s fire authority.

Residents said they heard a crack on Thursday night, then noticed the slumped hillside Friday morning and called authorities.

“It was pretty dark last night and we didn’t see the damage,” Roshy Gill, who was visiting her parents in one of the homes, told the Orange County Register. “We saw it this morning, and we were scared.”

The city was working with the residents to remove their belongings from the uninhabitable homes.

Cameron said since the slide was on private property, it would be up to the homeowners to do any repairs that would allow them to move back into their property.

Southern California received heavy rain in December and early this month, leaving some areas susceptible to slides. The coastal bluffs and canyons of southern Orange County are commonly threatened by moving earth.

About 14 miles to the north of San Clemente, a June 2005 landslide in the Bluebird Canyon neighborhood of Laguna Beach destroyed 11 homes, left several more severely damaged and displaced hundreds of residents.

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