Growing Sinkhole Destroys Homes In Land O'Lakes

Jul 14, 2017

Updated at 3:30 p.m.

A sinkhole that started out the size of a small swimming pool and continued to grow in Pasco County swallowed a boat, destroyed two homes and prompted officials to evacuate residents from 10 other homes on Friday.

Credit Google Maps

Dramatic video showed the home, north of Tampa in Land O' Lakes, collapsing into the hole on Friday morning. The hole quickly grew to 200 feet (60 meters) wide and 50 feet (15 meters) deep.

Pasco County Fire Chief Shawn Whited told reporters that no one was at the home when crews arrived just after 7:30 a.m. Someone had called about a "depression" under a boat parked next to the house in Lake Padgett Estates in Land O'Lakes. Within minutes, he said, "the hole opened up." The boat fell in.

Firefighters were able to get two dogs out of the home and retrieve some belongings before the home started collapsing into the quickly-expanding hole.

The destroyed homes were at 21835 and 21825 Ocean Pines Drive.

Whited said responders were caught off guard by the speed at which the homes were engulfed.

“Everybody was just in awe. We've never, I’ve never seen this. The crews that were out here they've never seen anything out here like this,” he said. “And just the magnitude of how fast that hole opened up in that first hour and a half was just, just, like I said…Those crews were in awe.”

County property records show there was a sinkhole previously at the property where the house was swallowed up, and that it had been "stabilized," in 2012. The home last sold in 2015, according to records.

Sinkholes are stabilized by boring holes into the ground and injecting concrete.

Kevin Guthrie, Pasco County's assistant county administrator for public safety, said 11 homes in the neighborhood have been tagged unsafe and the residents have been voluntarily evacuated. He said firefighters and deputies helped people get some of their belongings out of their homes.

"It was frightening," Guthrie said. "The people coming out of those houses were frightened. Mother Nature is going to take what Mother Nature takes."

Officials say Duke Energy cut power to about 100 homes in the neighborhood.

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said that people in neighborhood were very concerned.

“They’re fearful and unfortunately we can’t give them clear answers because this is Mother Nature and we don’t know what direction this sinkhole is going to go,” Nocco said.

This story is developing. Check back for more updates.