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Suspected sinkhole forces families from four Pasco homes

Sinkhole measuring 15 feet across and 10 feet deep appeared in Moon Lake on Monday, leading authorities to call for the evacuation of six homes. [Pasco County] [JACK EVANS  |  Times]
Sinkhole measuring 15 feet across and 10 feet deep appeared in Moon Lake on Monday, leading authorities to call for the evacuation of six homes. [Pasco County] [JACK EVANS | Times]
Published Jun. 26, 2018

MOON LAKE — A hole measuring 15 feet across and 10 feet deep appeared in the backyards of two homes on Monday, authorities said, forcing residents out of four homes and shuttering a fifth unoccupied home.

The depression appeared in the 11790 block of Pearl Drive, in the Caribbean Estates mobile home park, according to Pasco County Fire Rescue. Authorities initially asked residents of six homes to evacuate. Building inspectors eventually "red-tagged" five of them, closing them off to entry for the time being.

The depression has not yet been declared a sinkhole. A geologist from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection must give it that designation. Officials saw no pipes in the hole, minimizing the possibility it was caused by a water main break.

"It looks like a sinkhole," said Kevin Guthrie, the assistant county administrator for public safety. "It's acting like a sinkhole. It's probably a sinkhole."

A resident called 911 around 1 p.m. after noticing the hole, Guthrie said. Residents of three homes agreed to evacuate, authorities said, while residents of one home elected to stay behind.

That fourth home was not red-tagged, Guthrie said. Only part of its carport was within the 50-foot evacuation zone around the hole.

Authorities couldn't reach the residents of a fifth home, and the sixth home was vacant due to ongoing renovations.

Guthrie said the red-tagging was done "in an abundance of caution, due to the approaching weather front." Officials will check on the hole every few hours, he said, and could evacuate more residents if it expands.

Property owners can appeal red-tagging, Guthrie said. That process could take as little as a few days, he said, although it's up to the property owner.

In this case, residents own the homes, but Caribbean Estates owns the ground beneath them.

It was almost a year ago this summer that Pasco County officials found themselves grappling with a massive sinkhole that opened up in Land O'Lakes, about a 30 minute drive southeast of the Moon Lake depression.

The hole that opened July 14, 2017 created a void that swallowed two homes, left seven others uninhabitable and closed Ocean Pines Drive to through traffic.

The Land O'Lakes sinkhole was originally estimated to be 230 feet wide and 50 feet deep. It is now also 10 feet deep and resembles a sinkhole.

In March, the Pasco County Commission approved installing two T-intersections to allow vehicles to get around the street without having to back onto private property to turn around, and to surround it with a fence. The repairs are estimated to cost $242,000.

Contact Jack Evans at jevans@tampabay.com. Follow @JackHEvans