Huge Avalanche Hits Colorado Highway

Berthoud Pass Avalanche Cleanup

DENVER, CO, Jan. 6, 2006—A huge avalanche blanketed part of U.S. Highway 40 that leads to the Colorado ski resort of Winter Park on Saturday, burying some cars and injuring at least one person, state authorities said.

The slide was approximately 100 feet wide and 15 feet deep and buried at least two cars along the highway located about 60 miles west of Denver.

"This is a very large avalanche," said Stacey Stegman of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

It occurred between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at the 11,000-foot (3,350-meter) mark of Berthoud Pass. Sources say it could have been much worse if it had happened earlier in the morning as the bulk of skier traffic was traveling to the resort.

Eight people were rescued from the buried vehicles and all were taken to area hospitals, reported state patrolmen. Authorities say they think they've accounted for all the vehicles that were buried.

Colorado has been hit with three major snowstorms in the last few weeks that have dumped up to four feet of snow throughout the Denver-metro area and the surrounding mountains.

More snow is forecast for Colorado later this week.