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Debris slide closes Spirit Lake Highway; dozen people, dog airlifted from observatory

By William Seekamp, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 15, 2023, 6:55pm

A dozen people and a dog were airlifted Monday from Johnston Ridge Observatory near Mount St. Helens after a debris slide blocked both directions of state Highway 504, according to the King County Sheriff’s Air Support Unit’s Twitter.

The slide occurred shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday near Coldwater Lake by Milepost 45. The Daily News of Longview reported that 12 people and a dog had to be airlifted from the area after the slide.

Washington State Department of Transportation maintenance crews are assessing the slide. There is no estimated time for reopening.

Gifford Pinchot forest spokeswoman Gala Miller told The Daily News that the slide temporarily knocked out the power to the Coldwater center and other Forest Service locations. Miller said small landslides were common in the area but the amount of damage could significantly delay the opening of the Johnston Ridge interpretive center.

The upper portion of Highway 504 reopened in early May after it was closed for the winter. The highway is the only way to access popular visitor centers at Mount St. Helens.

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Columbian staff writer