BILLINGS — Earlier this week, a boulder detached from the Billings Rimrocks and narrowly avoided crashing into a home at 3233 Country Club Circle, severely damaging the home's backyard in the process.
“We didn’t see what had happened till the next morning. It was spectacular, oh my god. My lovely yard is destroyed," homeowner Lynn King told Q2 Wednesday.
King and her husband, Richard King, have been living in their Country Club Circle home for 20 years. Richard has lived in the neighborhood for the last 47 years. Never had the couple experienced a rock fall.
Sunday evening was quiet and snowy for Lynn. She was in the living room waiting for her husband to return from a Christmas party, praying he would arrive safely on the icy roads.
The clock read 7:15 p.m. when she noticed something wrong.
"I heard this rumble and terrible shaking," Lynn said. "I thought it was an earthquake because the house was shaking. Then I heard a bounce, and a bounce. And I thought 'oh, it’s a rock fall and a big one.'"
Richard was three minutes from home when he got a call from his wife, giving him the news.
“It was dark when I got home," Richard said. "I didn’t come out here till Monday morning when it was light. And of course, what I saw when I walked up the lawn was this huge hole that was gouged by the boulder.”
Richard estimated the boulder to be the size of a two-car garage. He said it bounced several times on its way down. One bounce created a crater in the yard around 10 feet deep.
“I would imagine from the time it broke loose until it got down here, it may have been 20 maybe 30 seconds. It had to be moving at tremendous speed because it carried itself and bounced so far. Just lots and lots of energy,” Richard said.
Branches on a pine tree about 10 feet off the ground were broken off as the rock came crashing down.
Thankfully, no one was injured. Instead of moving toward the house, the boulder came to rest in a valley that runs through the King's backyard.
“I was so blessed that it didn’t come straight at me. We are very blessed that it took the trajectory that it did,” Lynne said.
But the rock demolished several yard fixtures.
"Some trees are gone. There's 10-foot hole in the lawn, plus the arbor was down. The bridge railing was gone. Pathways down there were gone," Lynn said.
While Lynn is slightly nervous about continuing to live under the Rims, she said the family has too much history at the home.
“It was scary, part of me wants to move but the other part of me is so attached to this house and this property in spite of all that," Lynn said.
Richard realizes the rock fall is a powerful act of nature that can't be predicted.
“I’ve lived here for 47 years. I mean, you’re at the base of this sandstone escarpment and it moves. It’s Mother Nature in action. This is a fairly unusual experience, or event at least," Richard said.
There is no way to predict when the next major rock fall will happen on the Rims.