Massive sinkhole opens in Groveland; boil water alert issued

Several residents, middle school without water until sinkhole filled


GROVELAND, Fla. – A sinkhole in Groveland that measured approximately 65 feet deep and 80 feet wide was filled Monday afternoon. Crews will pack the dirt and pave over it if it does not continue to grow.

[WEB EXTRA:  Why do sinkholes form?  |  What should I do?  |  Who can help?]

It developed Sunday night in the area of Iowa Avenue and East Waldo Street.

Police said the sinkhole broke a water main, which put residents south of State Road 50 and north of Anderson Street between State Road 33 and Lake Avenue under a boil water alert.

Residents are advised to boil any water being used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth or washing dishes. The water should be brought to a rolling boil for one minute.

The water main has been repaired, but the precautionary boil water notice remains in effect until the water test comes back.

Police said no one was injured when the sinkhole opened up.

Gloria Fairchild and her 93-year-old mother were told to leave their home until engineers can determine if the hole has stabilized.

"If it spreads underground, our house could collapse, that's why they don't want anyone around," said Fairchild. "They just told us it's not safe to go back in yet, but we'll be going back as soon as they say it's OK."

Bottled water is being made available to residents at the Groveland Fire Department at 450 W. Orange Street.

Students at Cecil Gray Middle School were also given bottled water.

Boykin Construction was hired to fill the hole.

"But there's no telling, it can open at anytime, next month, next year, sinkholes happen," said Jeff Martin of Boykin Construction. "One good thing is they know where their sinkhole is. You don't. You could have one by your house."

The Tampa Bay Times reports experts are emphasizing the importance of watching for warning signs like dips in the yard or new structure cracks in buildings and sidewalks.

Big rains over an extended period of time weigh down the soil and sand that make up the earth's surface, increasing the likelihood that it will collapse into holes in the bedrock below and form depressions or sinkholes.

City officials said the site will remain under observation overnight and will re-examined for low areas Tuesday morning.

Groveland residents with questions may call 352-429-2141, extension 222.

Stay with Local 6 News and ClickOrlando.com for updates on this developing story.

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