Experts say sinkholes are sudden and can often times come without warning signs

SEFFNER, Fla - A second sinkhole opening up in Seffner Monday afternoon spread unease among residents who are still recovering from another sinkhole that claimed a man's life last Thursday.

"Gives you fear," said Allen Lewis, a 33 year resident of Seffner.  "It is human nature."

Mother Nature has reared her head twice in Seffner in less than a week.  Last Thursday, a sinkhole opened up under a home on Faithway Drive swallowing Jeff Bush alive.  Bush was in bed at the time.

The home has since been bulldozed revealing the hole Bush fell through.  Experts are comparing what is going on beneath the home to an hourglass.  Just underneath Bush's bedroom is a wide section that gradually leads to neck.  Just below the neck, the sinkhole expands out again.

The latest estimates regarding the deadly sinkhole measure it as 30 feet wide and 25 feet deep.

The sinkhole which opened up Monday on Cedar Tree Lane measures 10 to 12 feet wide and five feet deep, according to Hillsborough County spokesperson William Puz.

Straddling two property lines, the sinkhole opened up around 4:20 p.m. under a white fence that divided the properties.

Lewis was just returning home from work when he was met with fire rescue and code enforcers.

"We are all worried," Lewis explained.

Lewis told ABC Action News another sinkhole opened in the same area in 2003.  That sinkhole, according to Lewis, was filled.  Still, he never felt a need to have his own property assessed for potential sinkholes.  Now, he has changed his mind.

"My wife and I will take measures to have our property to checked out," Lewis said.

Geotechnical engineer John Marquardt said people who choose to live in West Central Florida should do so at their own risk.  He points to the area being known as "Sinkhole Alley" and explained that with it being the driest part of the year, sinkholes are popping up with more frequency.

"That is the risk of living here," explained Marquardt.

Marquardt also explained how sudden sinkholes can appear, often times without warning.

"It is a pretty sudden event and there is not much you can do.  Occasionally you will get warning signs, some cracking or some sloping fences," he said.

Both Seffner sinkholes came without warning.

"These two sites are not geologically connected," said Puz in an attempt to calm fears in the neighborhood.

Residents did learn deadly sinkholes are extremely rare.

"This is only the third time in my memory over the last 40 years where there has been a loss of life related to the formation of a sinkhole," said Dr. Anthony Randazzo, professor emeritus of geology at the University of Florida who also runs a geohazard company.


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