UPDATE 4-Avalanche kills one person, injures three near Vail, Colorado

by Reuters
Wednesday, 8 January 2014 01:17 GMT

(Updates with condition of injured, other details)

By Keith Coffman

DENVER, Jan 7 (Reuters) - One person was killed and three others suffered minor injuries on Tuesday when a large avalanche swept them down a mountain in the back country near the Colorado ski resort of Vail, law enforcement officials said.

The avalanche came down in an area known as East Vail Chutes that lies outside the boundary of the Vail Mountain ski resort, Eagle County spokeswoman Kris Friel said.

The three injured people were treated and released, the Eagle County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. Authorities declined to identify the person killed in the avalanche pending notification of next of kin, other than that he was male.

Eagle County Sheriff's spokeswoman Jessie Mosher said that the four people had been skiing and snowboarding at the time and did have some avalanche equipment on them.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center said in a Twitter post that the avalanche was large and occurred near a tree line on a slope.

The avalanche comes less than a year after five backcountry snowboarders were killed in an avalanche in April 2013 at Colorado's Loveland Pass, 48 miles (77 km) west of Denver.

The avalanche danger in the Vail area on Tuesday was rated as "considerable," due to high winds and recent heavy snows, said Spencer Logan, forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

This avalanche death was the second such Colorado fatality this winter season, and the fifth nationwide, Logan said. (Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Cynthia Osterman)

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