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  1. Local Weather

Ground gives way to sinkhole in Valrico, forcing two families to evacuate their homes

VALRICO — Hillsborough County officials investigated a sinkhole Thursday afternoon that forced two families to vacate their homes at 4724 and 4726 Copper Canyon Blvd. the day before.

"It looks pretty significant," said Jon-Paul Lavandeira, a county code enforcement director. "I doubt the weather caused this. I bet it was in the works for a while."

Neighbor Kimmy Dunn said her husband Denis Garcia discovered the hole Wednesday morning when he was standing in a neighbor's yard and sank into a soft spot in the ground. After tapping the grass with a shovel, the dirt gave way.

"We could see roots hanging," said Kimmy Dunn, 38. "It was eerie. Then we couldn't see any further because it was dark and cavernous."

Dunn said they contacted the homeowners, Yolanda and Ralph Algreche, who left their house at the 4726 address on Wednesday around noon for a friend's place. The other family, who were not identified by officials, also fled their home Wednesday.

The hole was three feet wide and four to six feet deep. "But that's just what we can see," Lavandeira said. Another smaller, less-explored hole, he said, has also opened beneath the Algreche's house.

He wasn't sure Thursday afternoon when, or if, the Algreches could return to their home, or whether neighbors would be affected by the opening.

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