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It wasn’t Mother Nature that caused the ground to crack open in front of a South Florida gated community on Saturday.
Instead, firefighters who arrived at Cooper City’s Biltmore Grove just after 1:30 p.m. pointed their fingers at AT&T subcontractors, who busted a water main during an excavation. The rupture caused water to flow from the roadway and created a sinkhole measuring about 15 feet by 15 feet, Broward Fire Rescue said.
The entrance to the gated community has been temporarily closed until the leak can be fixed, the water contained and the sinkhole repaired, Fire Rescue said. No injuries have been reported.
“The sinkhole does not pose an immediate threat to any adjacent homes,” the department said in a statement at about 3 p.m.. “It is unknown exactly when the repairs will be completed.”
While no boil-water notice has been imposed in Cooper City, firefighters urge residents to “utilize precautionary measures such as the consumption of bottled water until repairs are complete.”
Cooper City isn’t a stranger to sinkholes. In 2016, one opened up in a McDonald’s parking lot and nearly swallowed a car carrying a woman and her 4-year-old grandson. In that case, a water main break was also to blame.
Last month, residents of a neighborhood in the North Central Florida city of Ocala were forced to evacuate their homes after a string of sinkholes threatened the Fore Ranch community. A dozen holes opened up in the ground there.
In 2013, a Tampa-area man was presumed dead after a 20-foot-deep sinkhole opened up underneath his bedroom. Jeffrey Bush, 36, was never found.
His brother Jeremy heard him screaming as his bedroom quickly fell into the hole but could do nothing to save him.
Two years later, in 2015, CNN reported that the same sinkhole reopened.
At the time of the 2013 Tampa tragedy, University of Miami geologist Don McNeill told the Miami Herald, “We do have sinkholes, but they’re different styles of sinkholes.”
South Florida sinkholes are generally shallow and broad and develop over several days.
Because these sinkholes, called dissolution holes in South Florida, move so slowly, “You usually have time to get away from these things,” McNeill said.