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Sinkholes threaten Tarpon Springs homes | News

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Sinkholes threaten Tarpon Springs homes

Tarpon Springs, Florida -- Virginia and Nathanial Crawford have lived in their South Disston Road home for more than 50 years. The one-story, brick home that survived hurricanes and floods, was no match for a sinkhole that left it teetering on the edge of the earth.

"This is the most devastating of all," said their nephew, Henry Collins. He's lived next door to his aunt and uncle for more than 10 years.

Photo Gallery: Pictures of the Tarpon Springs sinkholes

Tarpon Springs firefighters were called to the home around 6 p.m. on Thursday for a fire, but there were no flames. Instead, they found hole in the ground that continued to grow.

Kenisha Merricks, the Crawfords' granddaughter, says engineers were testing the property for sinkhole activity after her grandparents reported seeing cracks in their house, when the ground started to open up.

"The first sinkhole happened right there on the corner," she said, pointing toward the home, "then it just dropped and all of the guys that were doing the sinkhole [testing], they jumped out of the hole."

Not long after, she says another hole opened up in the front of house, taking the yard and part of South Disston with it.

She says it went down with a "poof."

"I have never seen anything like this, not so close to our family anyway," said Sharell Ortiz, another Crawford granddaughter. "Always see it on TV and over in Pasco County, but nothing right here."

Workers spent most of Friday morning filling the hole in the front yard, but the hole in the backyard continued to grow, swallowing an entire brick shed that served as the family utility room.

As of Friday afternoon, the back of the house sat just over the edge of the hole.

"Oh my God, you can see under the house," said Merricks as she peeked into the backyard. "Grandmom hasn't seen this."

Firefighters deemed the house unsafe, forcing the Crawfords out of the only home they've known since the 1950's.

The Red Cross is assisting them while engineers figure out what caused the sinkhole and how to fix it.

Merricks says her grandparents have sinkhole insurance. Still, there is no amount of insurance to fix fear.

"My grandmother is scared. She doesn't want to come back. She's scared to stay here," said Merricks.

The city of Tarpon Springs has also hired engineers to test the ground in front of the home to find out how to repair South Disston Road. A city spokeswoman says the section of road is expected to remain closed through the weekend while they wait for reports from engineers.

The sinkhole does not appear to be threatening a nearby Progress Energy transmission line, according to the city.

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