Drill arrives at the scene of failing hillside

A drilling rig takes soil samples behind homes on Trestles Drive on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The clinks and clanks of a nearly 30-foot-tall drill rang throughout the Trestles neighborhood Tuesday as employees of Tri Valley Drilling worked near a landslide threatening multiple homes.

The 40,000 square feet of plastic sheeting that covered the failing hillside in the rainy recent weeks has now been removed along with the accompanying pumps, which were used to remove water from the failing hillside.

Despite the equipment remaining in place throughout last week’s period of storms, officials still expected the weather to affect the slope, and those on the scene Tuesday said one can certainly notice the changes in the hill with the tarps off.

Cracks as wide as 3 feet were visible in multiple areas of muddy slope Tuesday, prompting flashbacks to Stephanie Estrada’s backyard nearly three weeks ago when the slide was first discovered.

The cracks in the Estradas’ backyard began to increase and sink a few days after they became visible.

A Tri Valley Drilling official said during a phone call Tuesday that he was not at liberty to share any information about the equipment being used or why the company was on site in the afternoon.

Officials who have experience working with equipment similar to the one used at the scene of the landslide Tuesday identified the drill as a bucket auger rig, which was used on the Vasquez Canyon Road collapse several years ago. Typically, the rig is used to take samples periodically as it progresses down through the earth.

City officials were contacted late Tuesday but they were preparing for the night’s City Council meeting, so more information about the work being done on the slope was not immediately available.

However, citing the recent sunny skies and a lack of rain in the forecast, Landscape Development Inc. workers said they will no longer be needed on the site as much as they were in prior days. However, they will return if the forecast were to change for any reason.

In the meantime, workers had to demolish a built-in backyard barbecue grill belonging to one of the Trestles homes because it was beginning to push into the walls, according to Landscape Development Inc. officials.

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