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Sinkhole swallows pool, threatens home in Erwin

December 8th, 2011 3:53 pm by Brad Hicks

Sinkhole swallows pool, threatens home in Erwin

ERWIN — A large sinkhole opened under swimming pool at a home on Bradshaw Woods Road on Thursday morning, threatening the adjacent residence.
Homeowner Brad Thelen said the inground pool “was pulled underground.” Thelen said the noise caused by the sinkhole’s opening awakened his wife, Chemene, Wednesday night. Since that time, Thelen said the sinkhole, which was around 7 to 10 feet in diameter as of Thursday afternoon, has tripled in size. Thursday evening, Thelen said the sinkhole is still growing in size.
“It started last night and this morning is when it got bad,” he said. “And it’s still going.”
Thelen said the cause of the sinkhole is not known. A neighbor of Thelen’s, who wished to remain unnamed, pointed to recent precipitation as a possible cause. This neighbor also said it is difficult to estimate exactly how far down the sinkhole goes.
“It’s deep,” Thelen’s neighbor said. “We threw rocks in there and it took the rocks forever to land. And then it’s water.”
Every few moments, rocks and pieces of sediment would fall into the water at the bottom of the sinkhole, causing audible splashes. Thelen’s neighbor said that’s a scary aspect of the situation.
“It’s keeps falling in,” the neighbor said.
The sinkhole is only a few feet from Thelen’s residence. Because of this, some items have been moved from the home, and Thelen said he and his family are staying with other family members for the time being.
Thelen said seismologists should arrive at the residence today to take a look at the area.
Just beyond the fence containing the sinkhole is the playground at Love Chapel Elementary School. Unicoi County Director of Schools Denise Brown said she and Love Chapel Principal Ben Evely went to the scene Thursday afternoon to assess potential danger to students. While she said the erosion appears to be going away from the school, Brown said the playground area has been roped off and students will not be allowed in the area until seismologists have examined the area.

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