LAND O'LAKES — A seventh home was condemned Monday morning near what authorities have described as Pasco's largest sinkhole in decades.
The home at 21845 Ocean Pines Drive in Lake Padgett Estates was condemned, following two on Sunday and two on Friday. Another two homes were destroyed when the sinkhole opened in mid-July.
Pasco County's building inspections department has been visiting the site daily to evaluate structures near the sinkhole, and will continue to do so, said Kevin Guthrie, assistant county administrator for public safety. And while the void's diameter has grown by 25 feet since cleanup started last week, Guthrie said he doesn't believe that the sinkhole is active. But older, smaller sinkholes nearby could be making "minor adjustments" due to seismic ripples caused by massive chunks of land thudding into the earth, he said.
"The entire area is riddled with previous sinkhole activity," he said. "What you see here, in theory, is cause-and-effect type stuff." VIDEO: Shows giant sinkhole swallowing home
Homes at 3153 Canal Place and 21748 Ocean Pines Drive were condemned on Sunday, and homeowners moved their belongings out. On Friday night, authorities condemned 21814 and 21815 Ocean Pines Drive. Damage observed in the houses included buckled floors, cracked counter-tops and foundation fissures, Guthrie said. An eave over the front door had separated from the house at 21815 Ocean Pines Drive.
Eleven homes were initially evacuated when the pit opened on July 14. Some families were later allowed to return.
The Pasco County Commission awarded a $640,000 contract last week to Ceres Environmental Services to clear debris from the sinkhole. On Friday, work was temporarily halted after large chunks of the hole's edge crumbled inward.
Over the weekend, workers dumped 125 truckloads of crushed limestone into the hole to stabilize one edge of it and build a ramp into the depression. Workers then floated a small platform barge equipped with a backhoe into water in the sinkhole to clean debris from the center. They will use another backhoe to clean debris from the side of the hole. Five semitrailers of debris were removed from the hole on Saturday.
Contractors planned to pump water out of the hole Monday and decontaminate it, Guthrie said.
In all, $1.3 million was approved for the first phase of the cleanup, which was anticipated to take up to a month. But contractors now expect to be done by Aug. 18, and to come in under budget by as much as $200,000, Guthrie said.
The county may fill the hole once cleanup is complete, a project that would require funding approval by the County Commission.
Ocean Pines Drive was closed to traffic Monday.