Mudslide Knocks Out Walls, Ceilings in House

A family escaped injury Wednesday morning when a mudslide swept down off a hillside and caved in part of their house in Brentwood Estates, knocking out walls and ceilings and covering the interior with oozing slime and debris.

Marla Cohn said she was lying in bed about 9:30 a.m. when she and her two young children were startled by a deep rumbling noise that sounded like a major earthquake, but with tree branches snapping and other noises.

“Then the hill behind us fell down and into our house, through the master bathroom and into the bedroom,” Cohn said. “It totally leveled the back rooms,” including her bedroom.

“I thought Saddam Hussein had bombed the country,” said Cohn’s son Mason, 8, who was in another room at the time.


John Cohn, a relative of the Cohns, said the slide apparently was triggered by a buildup of leaking water from a broken pipe buried in the hill above the home off Bundy Drive. He said half the one-story house was “wiped out.”

The unattached garage of an adjacent home also was damaged.

Authorities said no one will know what caused the slide until geologic tests are completed and the city Department of Water and Power and Building and Safety officials investigate.

“It might have been a water main, but it might have been sprinklers left on,” said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Greg Acevedo. “We’ve had that happen before.”

By evening, two bedrooms and two bathrooms in the Cohn home were piled to the ceiling with parts of the house’s walls, roof and support beams. The family was forced to abandon the house temporarily for safety reasons.

Next door, Marone Cantwell and her husband spent the day and early evening shoveling out their two mud-caked cars.

Although their house escaped damage, the back-yard pool was filled with mud and the garage was irreparably damaged, Cantwell said, adding, “The whole hill came down.”