Sinkhole swallows homes in Florida, appears to be moving toward nearby lake

LAND O’ LAKES, FL (WFLA) – Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco asked for prayers for the families affected by a devastating sinkhole that swallowed two homes in Land O’ Lakes Friday.

“I ask that everybody out there please pray for the people in this community right now because as they go to bed tonight, I don’t know if they will be able to sleep.”

Authorities are scrambling to keep nearly a dozen homes safe as the depression, which is 50-feet deep and nearly 250-feet in diameter, moves toward a nearby lake. At a news conference Friday afternoon, Pasco officials said it’s possible a third home will be lost and described the ground near the sinkhole as very soft.

Pasco County Assistant County Administrator Kevin Guthrie said this was the biggest sinkhole his colleagues have seen in nearly 30 years.

The sinkhole began as a much smaller hole hours earlier.

At 7:21 a.m. on Friday, 911 dispatchers received a call about a boat that was falling into a hole that had formed at 21825 Ocean Pine Drive in Land O’ Lakes.

Firefighters arrived at the residence at 7:36 to discover the boat was already submerged in the sinkhole and the sinkhole was moving toward the house. Firefighters managed to rescue two dogs from inside the home.

Dramatic video shows the home collapsing into the hole.

One hour later, part of the neighboring home at 21835 Ocean Pine Drive also fell into the sinkhole. Residents were inside the home, but managed to get out safely.

“For the most part, they lost everything,” said Pasco County Rescue Fire Chief Shawn Whited, who was surprised at how quickly the sinkhole developed.

“This is something we’ve never seen before,” he said.

State geologists are on their way to examine the huge hole. They’ve asked Pasco authorities to evacuate the area between the sinkhole and a nearby lake because the sinkhole is moving toward the lake. Authorities are also concerned three to four septic tanks will start merging with the lake if the sinkhole is not contained in time.  The lake has also been closed to boaters.

Authorities initially said 11 homes were in danger Friday morning.  That number grew to 12 homes by the afternoon.  Eleven homes in total were evacuated.  Residents will not be allowed to enter their homes until they’ve been determined to be safe.

Authorities have not been able to contact residents in two other homes. Notices have been placed on the doors of those homes.

Authorities have also notified other people living in the area that the sinkhole is active and they could be forced to evacuate at any time.

One of the biggest concerns at this time is the possibility of

Power has been shut off to about 100 homes as a precaution.

The Red Cross will be assisting evacuated residents who need a place to stay. Residents impacted by the sinkholes can also contact the Pasco County Human Services Department at (727) 847-2411.

The neighborhood has been closed off to non-residents. Pasco Emergency Management is expected to set up a perimeter blocking the area where the sinkhole continues to grow.  Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has set up checkpoints for residents to provide proof of address before they’ll be allowed in. The checkpoints are located at:

  • Cloverleaf and Pine
  • Grove and Pine
  • Lake Padgett Dr. and Ocean Pines Dr.

Guthrie said that geologists and county crews are expected to be in the area for the next few weeks.

Authorities say a sinkhole had previously been fixed at the home located at 21835 Ocean Pine Drive. WFLA News Channel 8 did some digging and found that the home was also sold in 2015 as a “repaired” home.  Authorities say it’s unclear at this time if the affected homes have sinkhole insurance.

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