'Scary' sinkhole may have finally stabilized
SEFFNER (FOX 13) - A sinkhole that opened in a Seffner neighborhood late last week and continued to grow over the weekend appears to have stopped spreading, Hillsborough County officials said Monday.
The hole on Bogdonoff Road is now 28 feet wide and 30 feet deep after expanding several more feet since it opened late Friday night, according to Jon-Paul Lavandiera, with Hillsborough County's Rapid Response Team.
Experts are confident it is no longer spreading and brought in ground-penetrating radar to be certain.
"We do not see any evidence of any other holes happening under the structure or on the properties we just walked on," said Lavandiera.
The massive sinkhole forced authorities to evacuate two homes: A duplex alongside the hole and a home behind it, where Jenifer Torres and five family members live.
"It's a little scary," Torres said. "It's just slowly gotten bigger, which is probably also the other troubling part is that it's taking forever, so it's like holding our breath."
Torres was able to gather a few things when she left Friday, but had to leave behind some things that are irreplaceable, including at least one family heirloom.
"We do have an antique sewing machine that was, I believe, my great grandmother's," she told FOX 13, adding her mother is also worried about other belongings. "Right now we're just hoping to learn that it's OK to go back in the house real quickly and get out our big furniture because that it what my mom is the most worried about. She doesn't really want to replace it all."
The crater opened up about two miles from the sinkhole that swallowed Jeffrey Bush in 2013 while he was asleep in his bed, killing him.
Since then, Torres said she's feared something like this would happen.
"We have been stressing since 2013 that we may have a sinkhole under our house," she said. "We may not, but we don't know and we were afraid that it would open up underneath the house."
Neighbors who own property across the street are now worried for the safety of their homes too.
"Very concerning," offered Robert Perry. "You don't know when the next one's going to appear, or where you're going to be when the next one appears."
A temporary fence and several 'Keep Out' signs were added around the hole Saturday night after neighbors reported seeing teenagers jump a fence to the yard to get a closer look at the hole.
County officials said, because the sinkhole is on private property, the homeowners are responsible for hiring a geo-technical engineer to assess the damage and fill the sinkhole.
Experts aren't putting a timetable on when, or if, the evacuated neighbors will be able to return. Torres hasn't decided what she wants to do next.
"I'm not sure if we're wanting to move back in because of how close it is," she added.