Lehigh Valley

Sinkhole grows, keeps Bethlehem Twp. residents on edge

Sinkhole grows, keeps Bethlehem Twp. residents on edge

BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. - A massive sinkhole in Northampton County has grown to at least 100 feet wide and up to 40 feet deep, officials said Monday. The pit has people living nearby on edge.

"We're happy to be back home," smiled homeowner Doris Jenkins.

Jenkins, her daughter and granddaughter were back in their home 24 hours after a sinkhole swallowed part of the backyard and driveway.

"The side of the house is sinking in, too. It's shifting," explained Jenkins.  "And we have cracks in the walls and stuff."

Last week, township crews repaired a break in a 16-inch sewer pipe nearby.  They now worry more breaks on the force-main could be the reason for the sudden sinkhole. Workers were on site all day where the ground opened up.

"They're digging to find out the extent of depth where the sinkhole is running," said Stephen Gallagher, the township's fire marshal. "How deep it really is."

Officials estimated the crater spans at least a half-block.  They said it's about 100 feet wide and up to 40 feet deep.  It might even be part of a larger system of holes; two smaller sinkholes developed across the street Friday and Saturday.

"They're gonna go ahead and bring in some probing devices and radar to determine how deep it is where it's at," said Gallagher.

So far, only Doris and her family had to leave their home temporarily, but neighbors are not in the clear yet.   

"Yeah. I'm worried," added Dave Thoder.  "You think, 'Well, maybe it's gonna happen other places."

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