Mammoth Mountain ski resort closed after a "major avalanche"

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The avalanche happened about 10:15 a.m. and the resort shut down operations shortly thereafter, officials said. (KFSN)

Mammoth Mountain ceased operations Saturday after a "major avalanche."

Mammoth Mountain Ski Patrol had been doing avalanche mitigation work about 10:15 a.m. in a closed area of the resort when an avalanche was released and traveled to areas open to the public, a statement from Mammoth Mountain said.

Three people, including a Mammoth Mountain employee, were partially buried but were able to free themselves without injury, the statement said.

A search and rescue operation using dogs and transceiver detectors was launched "within minutes," the statement said, but no one else was found buried.

Ski Patrol continued to search the area Saturday afternoon, and resort representatives asked anyone with missing friends or family to call (760) 934-0611, adding that they would remain closed all day Saturday "to focus all efforts on the site."

Local police described the event as a "major avalanche" and asked people to steer clear of the area Saturday morning.

In their statement, Mammoth Mountain representatives said they expected to return to normal operations Sunday.

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