Pennsylvania Sinkhole Puts Scare Into Grandma, But House Survives

Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013 02:50 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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A little more than a week after a massive sinkhole claimed the life of a Florida man, a gaping 40-foot-wide hole in the Earth forced a Pennsylvania woman and her family to evacuate their home Sunday.

Doris Jenkins of Bethlehem Township, Pa., stepped out of the house early on Sunday morning to walk her dog but immediately noticed the driveway appeared to be crumbling in on itself, NBC Philadelphia reported.

"I came around the corner and said, 'oh my God!'" Jenkins told NBC Philadelphia of the sink hole. "My daughter's car was there. I woke her up and told her to get the car out of there!"

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Jenkins, her daughter Inga, and her granddaughter Claudia were able to escape unharmed. The family returned home Monday when engineers determined the sinkhole had not affected the infrastructure of the house.

Jenkins and her family were able to get out quickly, but a Florida man wasn’t so lucky.

On Feb. 28, a 100-foot-wide sinkhole collapsed the floor of Jeff Bush's bedroom in his Tampa-area home. Though his brother jumped into the wreckage to try and help Bush out, he was ultimately declared dead.

Sinkholes are most common in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The ground beneath these states is composed primarily of easily dissolved rocks like limestone, which gets eaten away by acidic groundwater, causing collapses and voids. They're a "definitive" part of Pennsylvania's landscape, according to the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Though it's not yet clear what exactly led to the Bethlehem sinkhole, Bethlehem Township Assistant Fire Chief Ron Ford said crews have been working in the neighborhood all week to repair a break in the sewer line. Fire officials are unsure, though, if that contributed at all to the collapse.

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Related stories:

Second Sinkhole Opens 2 Miles From Where Jeff Bush Died

Rescuers End Effort to Find Body in Fla. Sinkhole

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