Saturday, January 20, 2018
Public safety

Sinkhole opens beneath Holiday home; nearby homes threatened

HOLIDAY — Douglas Alexander bought his house three weeks ago.

He had to abandon it on Monday. He was one of four homes evacuated because a large hole opened under a neighbor's house. Now Alexander is worried whether his new home sits on solid ground.

"I don't know where I'm going to go," he said. "But right now, I'm worried about my safety and my house."

The hole was reported to Pasco County Fire Rescue at about 1:30 p.m. They set up a 100-foot perimeter around it and recommended that everyone inside it evacuate their homes until geological experts could inspect the hole.

Despite the danger, officials were not yet ready to call it a sinkhole. Instead, the hole was classified as a "subsidence," said Pasco County Director of Emergency Services Kevin Guthrie.

The endangered home was located at 5005 Genesis Ave. The home appeared to be unoccupied, officials said, because the owner splits time between Florida and New York.

The hole was estimated to be about 25 to 30 feet wide and 10 feet deep. Officials said the hole was continuing to grow; sand could be seen falling into the hole.

The county also feared the effect of an incoming line of thundershowers. But after some heavy rain, officials said, the hole did not appear to grow any.

County officials said they would bring in geological engineers to examine the hole and monitor it through the night.

"Our first order of business is always public safety, and we are going to do whatever we have to do to help public safety ...," Guthrie said.

"We will continue to monitor it, and as it continues to grow, we will continue to push that 100-foot perimeter back and makes sure that we keep public safety at the top of our priorities."

Guthrie added that neighbors should not panic, and anyone outside of the 100-foot perimeter can remain in their homes.

"There is no cause for alarm," he said. "You don't need to run out and take all the valuables out of your home. We will keep you informed."

Still, the incident caused headaches and worry for the neighbors who were affected. One neighboring family is staying with a relative, and the American Red Cross helped the two others families get a hotel room.

"I just wish everybody good luck," Alexander said. "My prayers are with these people."

Contact Jack Rooney at [email protected] or (727) 445-4159. Follow @RooneyReports.

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