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Victims of deadly Colorado avalanche identified

Brennan Linsley / AP

Snow falls near the spot where five members of a backcountry snowboarder group were found dead after they were trapped by an avalanche on Loveland Pass, Colo., Saturday, April 20, 2013.

Authorities on Sunday released the names of five backcountry snowboarders killed in a deadly Colorado avalanche a day earlier.

Killed in the slide near Loveland Pass, about 60 miles west of Denver, were Ian Lanphere, 36; Rick Gaukel, 33; Chris Peters, 31; Joe Timlin, 32; and Ryan Novack, 33, Denver NBC-affiliate KUSA reported. All of the men were Colorado residents.

A sixth member of the group was buried in the snow, but was able to dig himself out and call for help.

"If he hadn't gotten out, if he would've been buried too, it's hard telling when we might've found out," Clear Creek County Sheriff Don Krueger told KUSA.

Investigators said the snowboarders were hiking up a drainage area called Sheep Creek when they may have instigated the avalanche, which was about 650 feet wide, more than 1,000 feet long and eight feet deep.

"It appears that they triggered the avalanche low down on the slope much like pulling a log out from the bottom of a wood pile," Dale Atkins, a member of the area's Alpine Rescue Team, told KUSA.  "It caused the avalanche and quite a large one to crash down on top of them."

Saturday's avalanche was deadliest in Colorado since 1962, when seven people were killed near Twin Lakes, KUSA said. The area where the slide occurred Saturday has received nearly four feet of new snow in recent days.