Dynamite and Balloons: How Experts Could Force Crumbling Cliff's Collapse

By Frank Heinz
|  Thursday, Jun 19, 2014  |  Updated 6:57 AM EDT
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    Lake Whitney House Burned to Ground

    Rather than wait for it to tumble into the water, fire crews burned down a luxury home teetering atop a crumbling 75-foot limestone cliff over a Central Texas lake Friday.

    Lake Whitney Home on Cliff Set on Fire

    Fire crews burned down a luxury home teetering atop a crumbling 75-foot limestone cliff over a Central Texas lake Friday.
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    A crumbling limestone cliff overlooking Lake Whitney in Texas could soon be blasted with dynamite or pried off with inflatable balloons, days after a luxury home perilously perched on its edge was burned to the ground.

    Those are just two of the plans being mulled by authorities hoping to hasten the cliff's collapse, since experts believe the fault line through it will only grow.

    The home that sat atop the cliff was razed on Friday, after a landslide had caused part of the ground beneath the home, and part of the home itself, to collapse into the lake. Authorities intentionally burned the home to the ground, rather than wait for the rest of it to tumble into the water below.

    What remains on the property are the home's slab and a large crack in the ground that experts believe will only get bigger.

    Randy Cephus of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday that they are working with Hill County officials and homeowners in White Bluff Estates to determine the best method of removing the rock.

    One of their options is to blow the cliff face into the lake with dynamite. Another is to drop inflatable balloons into the fault line and then inflate them until the rock separates from the cliff and falls into the lake.

    There is no set time for the demolition, but Cephus said they would like to have it completed before the busy Fourth of July holiday, when the lake is full of boaters.

    A decision on a method and schedule may be made early next week.

    Until the demolition is complete, the area of the lake near the cliff is off limits.

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