Hole in Florida swallows car, forces evacuations of homes

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 11, 2014 11:41 AM

By Letitia Stein

TAMPA Fla. (Reuters) - Residents in central Florida on Tuesday monitored the threat of a hole that swallowed a car sitting in a driveway and forced six families to evacuate their homes.

The hole measured 10 feet wide and 10 feet deep as of Monday afternoon but officials said they were not calling it a sinkhole, which is typically formed by water erosion, until that had been confirmed by engineers.

The hole was only 4 feet on each side when Pasco County Fire Rescue first arrived at a residential property in Holiday, Florida, about 45 minutes north of Tampa, authorities said in a statement.

Within 15 minutes, the hole grew big enough to swallow a car at its edge.

The mobile home in front of the hole has since been condemned. Families were told not to stay in five other nearby homes until the ground has been found stable, officials said.

Florida's porous limestone foundation makes it prone to sinkholes. The resulting cavities are a common feature of the landscape, forming springs, lakes and portions of rivers.

Most sinkholes occur as naturally acidic underground water flows through and dissolves the underlying limestone. Communities in north and central Florida, and particularly in the Tampa Bay area, are especially vulnerable.

The sinkhole affecting residents in Holiday on Tuesday was located about an hour from one that last year opened under a house and swallowed a man who was sleeping in his bedroom. His body was never recovered.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Trott)