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Landslide In Napa County Kills Driver

UPDATE 2 p.m.: 

Officials say the spot where a deadly landslide occurred in Napa County Tuesday night was scorched by the Atlas Fire in October. 

CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Joe Buchmeier said a boulder was dislodged from a hillside and somehow forced the driver off the road. He says the hillside was burned in the Atlas Fire. "It's where the fire apparently backed down through here, so it wasn't full consumption of the fuels, but the fire definitely affected the hillside," Buchmeier said.

Highway 121 between Napa and Lake Berryessa was closed Tuesday night. The highway reopened Wednesday afternoon.

Buchmeier says the area is prone to mudslides during heavy rains, so it's hard to say whether the burn scar caused the slide.

Insight Guest Host Beth Duncan spoke with geologists about the science of mudslides in wildfire burn zones. Listen to that conversation here.


A landslide in the area where the Atlas Fire burned in Napa County has killed a driver, according to California Highway Patrol.

CHP's Napa Division tweeted Tuesday night that a landslide on State Route 121 between Napa and Lake Berryessa caused a "solo vehicle fatal collision." Caltrans says both lanes of SR 121 are closed and will reopen by 7 p.m.

The hillside above the slide was found to be unstable, forcing crews to wait until daylight to assess the situation and begin retrieving the vehicle and victim. The area is prone to landslides in heavy rains. Sources could not immediately confirm whether the slope where the landslide occurred had been scarred by the Atlas Fire, which scorched the area in October.

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