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article imageLarge sinkhole opens up near Florida homes, some residents flee

By Leigh Goessl     May 5, 2012 in World
Windermere - Several residents in one Florida community are feeling a huge sense of uncertainty because of a massive sinkhole that opened up in the backyard of one home this week.
The sinkhole occurred in Orange County Florida, outside the Orlando area, at a Windermere home. According to Bay News 9, the hole opened up on Thursday and grew from 34 feet to 100 feet wide.
The gaping hole is estimated to be about 50 feet deep; several trees and a hammock have reportedly fallen into it. Fortunately, no one has been reported to have been injured, but had the timing been different, one of the children could have been in the backyard.
WKMG Local News 6 is reporting several families are abandoning their homes as they observed the large sinkhole in their neighbor's backyard open up. The hole is located behind a home at 4926 Indian Deer Road and has stretched to 3 feet away from the house; Orange County Building Dept. inspectors deemed that structure unsafe.
Firefighters helped the family residing there collect their belongings and leave the residence. They are renters and are had only been living there about a month.
"We just moved in, we just got all the decorations on the wall and my wife woke me up and said there was a hole in the backyard," Lou Lambros told WKMG News. "My wife said she was hearing little pops, and when we went downstairs she could actually hear the grass tearing apart and falling into the hole."
The Lambros' backyard is one big hole.
The homeowner of this property is in California, and is said to be in shock. The property's management agent said the owner was covered for sinkholes in their insurance policy.
Neighbors are also worried the gaping hole will spread to their dwellings. Neighbor Kristin Jacobson just bought her house a month ago and is distressed at the possibility of her home being affected.
"I probably won't sleep well again tonight," Jacobson said. She said she spent the night looking out her window at the sinkhole creeping closer to her house. "I only bought this house a month ago, so I wasn't really expecting anything to happen the first month of the being here."
Reportedly, other neighbors have left, or are considering leaving, even though their homes were not officially deemed uninhabitable.
One fear in the neighborhood is even if this hole doesn't stretch any further, what if others open up? ABC News spoke to another neighbor.
"We just bought a house last year in the neighborhood, so that was our concern," neighbor Kim Holock said, with her husband Andrew wondering, "Yeah is our house going to fall in the sinkhole, too?"
At this time the cause of the sinkhole is not known, but local media noted the recent weather conditions have been dry.
In recent years several sinkholes have occurred, including a tragic 2010 incident in Canada that killed a family of four when their house was swallowed by a massive hole.
ABC News published another article that focuses on the risks associated with sinkholes. Experts tell the network that sinkholes can be natural or manmade.
David Weary, a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey said, "In nature, sinkholes collapse fairly rarely but it seems to happen more and more in developed areas because people redirect storm water and it sets them off.”
Weary warns anyone who sees a sinkhole should stay far away, noting a "bell shaped" void underneath, and that being near an edge of one is dangerous if additional collapse were to occur.
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