Sinkhole Destroys Land O’ Lakes Homes
By ANNE LINDBERG, TB Reporter
The sinkhole appears to be dormant, officials said late today.
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LAND O’ LAKES – A fast-growing sinkhole that opened up this morning (July 14) has destroyed two Land O’ Lakes homes and threatened a third, Pasco County officials say.
Although the sinkhole quickly enlarged and continued to do so throughout most of the day, Pasco County officials said late today that it appeared to have reached its maximum size.
“The hole itself appears to be dormant,” said Kevin Guthrie, the Pasco County administrator who oversees public safety.
Guthrie said that could change with expected rains. Officials say they will be monitoring the sinkhole throughout the weekend and will likely not be able to start evaluation and remediation until next week. The process will likely take a long time.
Complicating matters, Guthrie said, is the fact that the houses that collapsed into the hole used septic tanks. Between the waste from the septic tanks and household chemicals, the site is now considered hazardous.
“This is now a Hazmat incident,” Guthrie said.
The sinkhole was first reported shortly before 7:30 a.m. as a depression that was opening up in the backyard of 21825 Ocean Pines Drive. By the time crews from Pasco Fire Rescue and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office arrived, the depression had grown to a hole that swallowed the boat. Expansion followed quickly and both 21825 and 21835 Ocean Pines Drive had been destroyed. The hole continued to expand until it reached about 225 feet in diameter and an estimated 50 feet deep. It also consumed part of a road and was creeping up on another home in the Land O’ Lakes neighborhood.
Emergency personnel rescued two dogs and evacuated a total of 11 homes – the two that were destroyed and nine others. They turned off electricity to 100 homes but by 3 p.m. restored power to all but the 11 homes that had been evacuated. No injuries have been reported.
It’s too early to know what might be needed to fix this sinkhole, which one official said is the largest to develop in Pasco in at least the past 30 years.
When it does stop, Guthrie added, it’ll be a “couple of weeks to a month operation” or even longer to repair the road and other damage. Damage evaluation is not expected to begin until next week.
This is not the first sinkhole to form under these houses. Records show that Pasco housing inspections had taken place at both properties because of previous “sinkhole activity.” At 21825 Ocean Pines Drive, a housing investigation took place Feb. 14, 2007, but there are no notes on what was done to the property. A housing inspection took place at 21835 Ocean Pines Drive on July 5, 2012. No remediation was done until Apri 8, 2016 when 33 underpins were placed on the property at a cost of $30,000.
Officials said they’ll be on site all night to monitor the situation.
Residents who need help can reach out to Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Pasco County Human Services at (727) 847-2411.
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office has set up checkpoints for residential proof of address at Cloverleaf and Pine, Grove and Pine, and Lake Padgett Drive and Ocean Pines Drive.
For information about Pasco County, go to pascocountyfl.net.
Photo and tape of 911 Call courtesy of Pasco County.
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