A sinkhole in Florida that in 2013 consumed and killed a man on his property has opened for a third time, officials said this week.
Hillsborough County officials said in a statement that the sinkhole in Seffner, Fla., a suburb of Tampa, had reopened again after opening in 2013 and 2015. County officials assessed the site of the hole on Monday and told neighbors in the area that they didn’t need to evacuate as there was no danger to their homes.
The sinkhole is about 19 feet deep and 19 feet wide at its broadest point, said Todd Pratt, a Hillsborough County spokesman, in an email on Thursday. “The sinkhole is pretty much a repeat of when it reopened in 2015,” Mr. Pratt said. In 2013, it was about 20 feet deep and 20 feet wide.
Engineers determined this week that there was no indication that the sinkhole would expand, so residents could “remain safely in their homes,” according to the county’s statement.
Officials plan to fill the sinkhole with about 150 tons of gravel and water, which should take about two to three days, Mr. Pratt said. A time frame for filling the sinkhole has not been set, and in the meantime, it has been surrounded by two fences, Mr. Pratt said.
The sinkhole opened up in early 2013, swallowing and burying Jeffrey Bush, 36, who was presumed dead after rescue crews could not find him. At the time, the sinkhole was 20 feet deep and 30 feet wide, and it expanded, prompting officials to condemn Mr. Bush’s home.
The land has since been acquired by Hillsborough County as conservation property, putting the county in charge of its upkeep.
Sinkholes can form when the ground erodes beneath the surface and can no longer support the land above it, and they can develop suddenly or slowly over time, according to United States Geological Survey.
Sinkholes are particularly common in Florida because the state is underlain by carbonate rocks, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Carbonate rocks can be prone to dissolve in water over time, which can lead to sinkholes, according to the state’s Environmental Protection Department.
Florida’s history of sinkholes has been well documented. In 2017, seven homes were condemned in Land O’Lakes, Fla., north of Tampa, after a sinkhole opened up and then expanded to a width of 260 feet.
In 2013, hundreds of guests at a resort in Clermont, Fla., had to evacuate after an estimated 60-foot-wide sinkhole opened up and swallowed part of a building on the property. No one was injured.
A report in 2010 by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation found that from 2006 to 2010 sinkhole insurance claims in the state exceeded $1.4 billion.