Seffner sinkhole forces evacuations

Two families are not allowed back into their Seffner homes, after a sinkhole opened in a yard on Clay Pit Road Friday night.

Neighbors said they heard a crashing sound as the ground collapsed, but luckily no one was injured. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office blocked off the yard to prevent residents from going near the depression.

“It was big, but it was not as big as it is now. The fence was still standing,” said neighbor Brittany Arias on Saturday.

Initial reports estimated the sinkhole was 27 feet deep and 22 feet wide, but it grew wider on Saturday.

“It’s grown in the same direction as it was last night, so no additional homes have been affected,” said Jon-Paul Lavandeira, director of the Hillsborough County Rapid Response Team.

The hole is believed to be spreading towards a duplex, with one occupant. The resident, who is renting the home, was evacuated, in addition to residents living in the home behind the duplex.

Since the sinkhole is on private property, the owner of the duplex will be responsible for hiring a geotechnical engineer to assess the damage and determine the safest way to fill the hole.

Neighbors said they are checking their own property out of precaution.

“You don’t know if it’s going to happen to you,” said Arias. “My kids play outside. They have a play area in our backyard, and it just makes me want to go out there and inspect it to see if I see anything.”