LAND O’ LAKES, Fla. (WFLA) – Authorities are scrambling to keep people safe from a massive, fast-growing sinkhole that swallowed two homes in a Land O’ Lakes neighborhood Friday morning.
“We got people out of harm’s way,” said Pasco County Assistant County Administrator Kevin Guthrie. “It was frightening.”
Guthrie said that as of 12 p.m. on Friday, the sinkhole was estimated to be 200 to 250 feet wide and 50 feet deep and appeared to be moving toward a nearby lake.
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 looks like it is moving toward the lake. The lake has also been closed to boaters.
“We’re expecting it to grow,” said Guthrie.
Authorities have identified 11 homes that are in danger. Residents in nine of the homes have been told to evacuate. They 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.
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 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:
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.