Evacuation cancelled at Palm Harbor sinkhole scare - FOX 13 News

Evacuation cancelled at Palm Harbor sinkhole scare

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Firefighters rushed to a house on Harbor Drive on Tuesday morning after a 911 caller reported a suspected sinkhole. An elderly woman was living in the home and her caregiver says the living room floor just buckled.

"I was very scared, very scared," said caregiver Deborah Wiksten.

"We noticed there were numerous cracks inside the property that weren't there before. There was separation at the baseboards and at the floor level of the walls," said Palm Harbor Fire Rescue District Chief Dan Zinge.

As a precaution, crews evacuated the home and two others nearby. They couldn't help but think of the massive sinkhole that pulled a man into the ground in Seffner Thursday, killing him.

The tragedy has heightened concerns over sinkholes and every little crack.

"It's important to not just have the opinions of somebody who's just been around a sinkhole, but somebody who's been trained to evaluate. So probably the first thing to do is to call your insurance company," explained sinkhole expert Larry Madrid.

Madrid has been around a lot of sinkholes. He was among the first to investigate the one in Seffner last week. He had never seen anything like it. But, he says it's normal for houses to settle and shift, causing superficial changes.

"If you're seeing things like new cracks, ongoing cracks, every house is sitting on that sand and the superficial sand is loose. So, you're going to get some settlement just from the fact you're on loose sand," continued Madrid. "Not every crack on a structure is going to related to sinkhole activity."

Nonetheless, it's only been four days since Jeff Bush lost his life to a sinkhole. It had some neighbors on Harbor Drive a little nervous.

"Turned on the news and saw something about a sinkhole and just ran down because it's on our block," said neighbor Barb Owens.

"I think it makes everybody a little nervous and everybody's scared," added Wiksten, whose husband works for a sinkhole company. "You just don't know what could happen. You really don't."

Wiksten says inspectors are still looking into what caused the tile floor to separate from the concrete, but they don't believe it was sinkhole activity. Everyone was allowed to return home Tuesday afternoon.

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