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Workers fill in 30-foot-deep sinkhole

It takes 30 truckloads of dirt to fill the sinkhole that destroyed a $55,000 duplex.

By JOE HUMPHREY

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 20, 2000


SEFFNER -- A sinkhole that swallowed half a duplex earlier this month was filled with more than 30 truckloads of dirt Monday, stabilizing the ground for the upcoming demolition of 5325 Lemon Ave.

Dan Kubiniec of Kimmins Contracting said the company will demolish the house once it receives a permit, which could happen as early as Wednesday. Monday, dump trucks squeezed down narrow Lemon Avenue and into the yard of the destroyed $55,000 duplex, leaving dirt behind for Sam Hooks.

Hooks, 64, bulldozed the dirt into the hole, which measured 30 feet wide and just as deep when it opened June 1. Another worker then used a backhoe to pack the dirt into the hole.

The 21/2-week-old sinkhole has stayed roughly the same size since opening.

Hooks said he wasn't worried about the hole expanding.

"She's holding up pretty good," he said.

A few minutes later, Kubiniec ventured to a couch at the bottom of the hole. The crew foreman flipped the sleeper sofa end-over-end and out of the hole. A small end table was also removed and placed on the north side of the stucco house.

After the sinkhole formed beneath the duplex, Hillsborough County Public Works director Bernardo Garcia recommended the house be demolished. Kubiniec said the demolition and removal will take only a day. After that, another home likely will be built on the land, Garcia said.

Nobody was injured when the sinkhole opened early on a Thursday morning. The previous evening, Wally and Theresa Sparks moved out of the south apartment when a smaller sinkhole formed in the front yard. The north apartment, an unoccupied but furnished unit, suffered the brunt of the damage.

A Temple Terrace bar, Uncle Fat's Pub, is hosting a benefit next month for the Sparks, who lost 10 percent of their belongings in the sinkhole. Margaret Sebasta, Mrs. Sparks' sister, said the pub hopes to raise enough money for the couple to put a down payment on a house.

-- Joe Humphrey can be reached at 226-3403 or humphrey@sptimes.com.

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