ORTING, Wash. -- The eruption of Mount St. Helens 35 years ago was a wake-up call, and experts say it's not the only nearby mountain threatening to blow its top.

"We will have a problem sometime in the future," said Richard Schroedel, Supervisor of Planning and Preparedness for Pierce County's Emergency Management Agency.

Mount Rainier, for example, is an active but dormant volcano.

"You've got the potential for an eruption that could cause problems for the entire county and the entire state, just like St. Helens did," Schroedel said.

Many who live in the shadow of Mount Rainier know the danger, but chose to live nearby anyway.

"I understand Orting will be the first place to go if Rainier ever does go, " said Orting resident Debbie Thompson/ 

If they know what could happen to them if a catastrophic eruption occurs, why do they choose to live so close to a potential danger?

"I love it here," Thompson said. "Every state you can live in has its own different catastrophes."

Nearly 90 new homes are being built in Thompson's development, and she said many of the younger people aren't even aware there a potential for danger.

"Business is really good right now," said John L Scott Real Estate broker Shane Bailey, who recently hosted an open house in Thompson's neighborhood.

Bailey said the dollar buys a lot more house in Orting than "folks on the hill" in neighboring Puyallup and Bonney Lake. Bailey not only works in Orting, he lives here too and is raising his three children.

"Every now and then you'll have the question come up," he said."What about the Lahars?"

With monthly Lahar siren testing  and frequent Lahar evacuation drills for students, it's hard not to know the risk.

Mt. Rainier Lahar warning areas include, Pierce, Lewis, and Thurston Counties, but depending on the blast could reach parts of King County. Father north in Snohomish County, scientists are keeping a watchful eye on another volcano

"This is Glacier Peak," said U.S.G.S. Geologist Dave Ramsey, pointing to a LIDAR map of Glacier Peak, which can see what's under the canopy of trees and expose the mountain's ridges and drainage flows.
Recent LIDAR mapping revealed drainage flows that lead to populated areas.

"With its history of explosive eruptions, it turns out to be a really important volcano," said Ramsey. 

Ramsey said right now Glacier Peak has only one monitoring station, but said it's a priority to get more. The monitors are equipped with GPS and seismic devices that allow geologists to track migrating magma and monitor earthquakes, noting their location and depth.

The U.S.G.S. said monitors on Mt. Rainier watch and listen to the mountain 24/7, allowing scientist monitoring her to forecast an eruption days sometimes  weeks in advance.

"At some point and time it will decide it wants to erupt," said Schroedel.
That would be an ACTIVE VOLCANO, such as the Mt. Mayon.