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Possible sinkhole disrupts Florida families near where man died

March 27, 2013|By Michael Muskal

A possible sinkhole has forced two Florida families from their homes, officials said, in the latest example of the geological phenomenon that has frequently struck the Sunshine State.

About 5 p.m. Tuesday, an emergency telephone call to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue reported that the floor of a duplex on Peach Avenue in Seffner, Fla., had buckled and the walls had cracked. Officials urged two families to move elsewhere and the American Red Cross was contacted to relocate the families, officials said.

No sinkhole was seen and the property owner will have a crew examine the soil to test the ground’s stability. The crew has yet to begin work, Hillsborough Fire Rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico told the Los Angeles Times.

If confirmed, the sinkhole would be the fourth in the area. Less than three miles away is the property with the most infamous recent sinkhole problem.

Less than a month ago, a sinkhole opened under 240 Faithway Drive, killing Jeffrey Bush, 37, and forcing the evacuation of two adjacent homes. Bush's home was demolished and the other homes are still vacant, Hillsborough County spokesman Willie Puz said by telephone. The Bush family has been relocated to temporary housing, he said.

Sinkholes are not exactly common, but far enough from rare that insurance companies write policies for that type of disaster. Getting the soil tested is also a common precaution, Puz said. For example, in the same area over the weekend, a small sinkhole opened up and the owner has taken precautions, he said.

In general, a sinkhole is caused when the underlying layer of soft limestone is dissolved by acidic water, leaving air pockets. As the holes expand, the weight of the ground eventually becomes too great and the top layer collapses. Officials estimate there is likely more than 10,000 sinkholes throughout the state.

In the latest incident, Jessica Alfaro, a resident, told MyFoxTampaBay.com that her living room was sloping, creaking and rubbery.  “If you were to touch it, it's going up and down and comes back up,” she said.

She told the television station that her wheelchair-bound father lives in the home with her, along with her brother, sister and newborn niece.

“She's like, 'does it sound like it's good?' I was like, no it doesn't. Once we sat down, so much noise started happening. I thought, this is crazy, I'm calling 911. They said it's time to get out,” Alfaro said.

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