Cliff where home dangled before set on fire may face demolition

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by LAUREN ZAKALIK

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaalauren

WFAA

Posted on June 17, 2014 at 10:14 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 17 at 11:55 PM

Lake Whitney cliff collapse

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HILL COUNTY — We all know now what happened to that castle on the cliff. It was the million-dollar dream home that had to be set on fire last week to keep it from plummeting into Lake Whitney in Hill County.

Now, News 8 has learned the crumbling cliff at the center of it all may face a similar fate.

“I don’t think I can recall in the seven-and-a-half years I’ve been here, blowing the side of a cliff off,” said Hill County Judge Justin Lewis.

Tuesday, News 8 found out there's serious discussion right now between homeowners and officials about using explosives to break away the piece of the cliff that dangles some 30 feet out and 90 feet above a popular portion of Lake Whitney.

The move would help protect a neighboring home. The crack in the land that spurred the problems is on Steve Mellgren’s property. Mellgren says he has a “touch of anxiety” about the idea, but believes it would be extremely accurate. He says he's considering all options on the table.
 
“What they would do is drill down 30 feet and then put shape charges in there and blow it, like cutting it with a knife,” said Hill County emergency manager Tom Hemrick.

Right now, this is just a proposal. But, according to some, including Rob Webb — whose home was the one set on fire — this might be the best idea. The explosion would be handled by Heart of Texas Demolition, the same company that set the house on fire and tore down Texas Stadium.
 
The problem now is money. It may cost $150,000, according to Webb, and he says no one seems to have that cash on hand.

“Hopefully somebody will be a hero and come down from State of Texas and make this possible disaster go away before it happens,” he said.

The county judge and emergency manager told News 8 they’ve reached out to the federal government to see if money is available. News 8 was told if the money is secured, and everyone’s on board, this could happen quickly.

“We’ve got July 4th coming up, the big holiday, the lake will be full,” Hemrick said. “We really want to get something done as soon as we can if it’s possible.”

Hemrick and Lewis are worried the longer everyone waits, the bigger the chance is for a piece of the cliff to break off, fall into Lake Whitney and seriously injure passing boaters.
 
We may know more Wednesday on whether the plan will be implemented.
 

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