Fourth Tampa Sinkhole Feared, Home Evacuated

Sinkhole

A fourth possible Tampa area sinkhole resulted in the evacuation of two families from their home this week, according to local authorities.

One month ago, a massive sinkhole opened underneath a home located just three miles away, causing a man’s death as it swallowed him in his sleep. Two additional sinkholes appeared shortly after, all located in Seffner, roughly 15 miles from Tampa.

The fourth possible Tampa area sinkhole was reported on Tuesday. Jessica Alfaro alerted police when she noticed sudden structural damage to the duplex where her family resides.

According to Alfaro, the walls of the home appeared to be sloping and felt “rubbery”, contracting back and forth when pressure was applied by hand.

After hearing continuous creaking sounds emitting from the structure, Alfaro decided to err on the side of caution and called emergency services. The Alfaro family was advised to vacate the home pending further investigation.

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue responded to the sinkhole report and arrived to discover significant cracks in the home’s outside walls, although the source has not been determined.

Soil surrounding the residence was reportedly deemed “soft,” and samples were removed for testing purposes.

The responders reportedly surveyed the inside of the property, where additional damage was noted. Jessica Damico, of the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, spoke about the home’s condition:

“The tile is actually buckled up quite a bit. It’s not like a normal tile crack you would see. It’s buckled up a few inches above the slab.”

She continued: “It sounded hollow to them, but they’re not sure if the tiles are just loose. It’s beneath the tiles and the floor. Or if there’s actually some holes beneath the slab.”

The home will remain evacuated until experts can determine if the structural damage is the result of a sinkhole beneath the home. The area, which has been referred to as “Sinkhole Alley,” is currently suffering from what officials have called “sinkhole season.”

According to local environmental officials, the nature of Florida’s bedrock is susceptible to erosion from acidic rainwater. Once that happens, rock is diminished beneath the ground’s surface and caverns are created. The process can reportedly result in sinkholes like the ones reported this year.

Sandy Nettles, proprietor of a local geology consulting firm, commented on the phenomenon:

“There’s hardly a place in Florida that’s immune to sinkholes. There’s no way of ever predicting where a sinkhole is going to occur.”

Experts are expected to begin their investigation of the fourth possible Tampa sinkhole this week.

[Top image via Wikimedia Commons]