Bethlehem Township, Pa., family evacuates home after giant sinkhole forms
Years ago, Doris Jenkins added to her Bethlehem Township home for her daughter and granddaughter to live with her.
At about 4 this morning, Jenkins feared the addition and her daughter’s car would both be swallowed into the Earth.
A hole opened behind 1502 Second St. Township police Sgt. Greg Gottschall estimated it's 25 to 30 feet wide and 10 to 12 feet deep.
That's about as wide as the sinkhole that two weeks ago swallowed much of a Hillsborough County, Fla., home and a man who was in it, although the Florida hole was 100 feet deep.
Jenkins said she was awakened by a loud bang and one of her three dogs scratching at the door.
“I didn’t see anything at first because it was dark,” Jenkins said. “But when I went around the corner, I saw it caved in. I told my daughter (to) get the car off the driveway ... "
No one was hurt, but Jenkins and her family were ordered to leave their house.
Authorities couldn't immediately say whether the cave-in was linked to recent work on a township-owned sewer line.
Township Manager Howard Kutzler said the work was performed earlier this week on a force main sewer line at Second Street and Wilson Avenue that dates to the 1970s.
A second leak was suspected today, Kutzler said. He said crews forced a main shutdown and ran a sewage shuttle from the pump station to the manhole to repair the line.
“We have aging infrastructure and we’re looking to fix it,” he said.
Gottschall said earlier this week there had been smaller sinkholes at 1470 Second St. Kutzler also said there were other smaller sinkholes on Wilson Avenue in the vicinity where pipe work was being performed.
Bethlehem Township Fire Marshal Stephen Gallagher deemed the home uninhabitable.
Police, fire and rescue crews, a code enforcement officer and a water company responded, according to police. Kutzler said an engineer from GAI Engineers would assess the sinkhole.
Large sinkhole opens up in Bethlehem Township, Pa.
Enlarge Matt Smith | The Express-Times A large sinkhole opened up in the backyard of a home at 1502 2nd St. in Bethlehem Township, Pa., forcing the evacuation of the home and the closing of Wilson Avenue between Second and Third streets. Express-Times Photo | MATT SMITH Large sinkhole opens up in Bethlehem Township, Pa.
The area was barricaded this afternoon and an “unauthorized entry” sign was posted on Jenkins’ front door as neighbors came to check out the hole.
Jenkins is staying with family while her daughter, Ingeborg, and granddaughter stay at a hotel.
Kutzler said there would be no disruption in water and sewer service.
Sinkholes are common in the Lehigh Valley, where porous limestone underground is prone to give way, but the one in Bethlehem Township is larger than most. LehighvalleyLive