Rescue officials say about 100 neighbors in Missoula, Montana, converged to help find three people buried Friday during an avalanche that may have been caused by a snowboarder. The avalanche swept down a mountain in a residential area of Missoula and crushed a house at the bottom. "It was very chaotic but a lot of energy," said an assistant fire chief. Scores of neighbors had already started the rescue effort when he arrived about half an hour after the slide, and some 20 professional responders helped provide focus to the effort. An 8-year-old boy was pulled from the snow just as he arrived, he said.
The three people were hospitalized a day after the avalanche slid down 4,768-foot Mount Jumbo into the northeast Missoula neighborhood. Fred Allendorf, 66, a retired professor from the University of Montana, is in serious condition while his wife, Michel Colville, is in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said. The boy was expected to be released in fair condition yesterday, the Independent Record reports. Police are investigating, but Missoula avalanche expert Steve Karkanen says a snowboarder caused the accident. The snowboarder apparently came down the surface of the avalanche, helped with the rescue, and talked openly with police. "He wasn't trying to hide anything," said Karkanen, adding the snowboarder was likely unaware of local rules involving Mount Jumbo. (Read more avalanche stories.)