An avalanche near a popular ski resort northeast of Seattle has killed three people.  The slide happened near the Stevens Pass resort in the Cascade Mountains, about 80 miles from Seattle, in an out-of-bounds area where a group of expert skiers were carving their own trails.

The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center issued a high avalanche danger warning for elevations above 5,000 feet in the area.  A resort official says 19 inches of snow had fallen in the past 24 hours, creating loose new snow on top of the existing snow pack, creating the avalanche danger.

The three people killed were all men described as "expert skiers," while a fourth person, a woman, was also caught up in the slide.  She was carrying an "avalanche safety device" and managed to escape without serious injury.

FOX News Radio's Courtney Kealy reports:

The avalanche swept up three expert skiers, pushing them down about a quarter-mile in an out of bounds canyon on the back of the resort.

(Kearns) "It's been a really rough day up here. It's just been hard to swallow. I feel like I've been kicked in the gut."

Jack Kearns lost his friend in the avalanche.

A fourth skier, a woman, had a safety device that apparently saved her life.

The Sheriff's Search and Rescue unit saying it wasn't immediately know what kind the woman had - either a kind of wearable airbag that keeps a person afloat on top of an avalanche, or another kind of inflatable bag that creates space between the wearers mouth and the snow.

Courtney Kealy, FOX News Radio

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