POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A massive sinkhole opened up in Lakeland, Florida, on Thursday, prompting efforts to stabilize the surrounding area amid fears the sinkhole could expand.
“It’s a little spooky to be honest with you because this Scott Lake area is a sinkhole area of Lakeland and I’m concerned,” said Jack Hall, a Lakeland resident whose home sits about 40 feet from the hole.
Officials said a well being drilled on a site off Scott Lake Road caused the sinkhole to develop near an underground cavern.
“We assume that those two are somehow connected and basically created the void that then allowed the material above it to basically start breaking through that confining layer,” said Jay Jarvis, the director of roads and drainage in Polk County. “That’s what’s occurring, that’s typically what a sinkhole is.”
The Southwest Florida Water Management District has sent a letter to the permittee ordering a remediation plan be submitted within 30 days.
On Friday, an engineer monitoring the sinkhole said it was approximately 25 feet deep and 80 feet wide. Additional details provided by Polk County officials indicated the hole was “slowly growing” as of Friday.
In a news conference that afternoon, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd urged residents to avoid the area and to stay away from the sinkhole while crews work to stabilize the area. Polk County Fire Rescue went door-to-door notifying nearby residents of the situation.
“There is no property or structural damage at this time, but three nearby houses could be affected,” Polk County officials wrote Friday.
The sinkhole is not currently affecting the nearby Scott Lake Road, but a portion of the street was shut down out of an abundance of caution.