Bethlehem sinkhole blamed on broken sewer line (PHOTOS)

March 11, 2013 2:33:47 PM PDT
A massive sinkhole, at least 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep, has residents in Bethlehem Township, Northampton County on edge.

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The crater opened up on Sunday on Wilson Avenue in Bethlehem Township.

At least one family has been forced out of their home, and more could be asked to leave.

The massive sinkhole is actually part of a much larger system of holes that developed after a sewer line break.

Township crews had been making repairs to the sewer line and patched up some of the smaller sinkholes last week when the ground on Wilson Avenue simply opened up.

The sinkhole spans the length of a block along part of 2nd Street, but ground zero is located right under the home of Doris Jenkins.

So far, Doris is the only one forced to evacuate, but her neighbors are not in the clear just yet.

Neighbor Dave Thoder tells Action News, "You worry about this and you think, well, maybe it will happen other places. But here you are? a quarter block away from my house."

Neighbors say Doris started getting nervous when she noticed parts of her ceiling separating from her walls inside her home. Then yesterday morning, she went outside to find part of her driveway had been devoured by a hole 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep.

Experts say part of the reason why sinkholes develop in this part of Pennsylvania is the foundation of limestone beneath the surface of many properties.

Dr. David Smith from DaVinci Science Center explains, "Rain and groundwater mix with soil and become acidic, and that weak acid can attack the minerals that are in the limestone. And when that happens, the limestone dissolves and starts to form caverns."

Though many questions still remain, township officials do say there is no reason to believe that this sinkhole will develop into one like the one that killed a man in Florida two weeks ago.