Sinkhole threatens home in upscale West Knox neighborhood

Sinkhole threatens home in upscale West Knox neighborhood

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at the corner of a house and driveway located on Polo Club Lane in the Gettysvue neighborhood. at the corner of a house and driveway located on Polo Club Lane in the Gettysvue neighborhood.
The hole is 25 feet wide and about 13 feet deep The hole is 25 feet wide and about 13 feet deep
Crews from First Utility District were working Friday to restore water service to nearby homes. Crews from First Utility District were working Friday to restore water service to nearby homes.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A sinkhole opened up Thursday night next to a home in an upscale West Knox County neighborhood.

The hole is 25 feet wide and about 13 feet deep. It is at the corner of a house and driveway located on Polo Club Lane in the Gettysvue neighborhood.

The homeowners had to abandon their house. Contract workers said it could be a couple weeks before the homeowners are allowed back in if the sinkhole is fixed.

Nine homes lost water service when the sinkhole opened up. The sinkhole and water outage were reported at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

Crews from First Utility District were working Friday to restore water service to the nearby homes, but they will not restore water to the house where the sinkhole is located until it becomes safe to work around it.

Experts from Knoxville-based Rembco Geotechnical Contractors, Inc. were brought in to assess the damage and stabilize the foundation of the house.

Workers were there to stabilize the location first by pouring a low-weight concrete before they attempt to make permanent repairs. Issues with the homeowner's insurance company halted work, however.

Rembco President Clay Griffin says sinkholes are common in East Tennessee because of the many caves in the area.

"It's not uncommon at all," Griffin said. "This one is fairly large for being right next to a home."

Griffin says a hole in the bedrock opened up, allowing dirt closer to the surface to collapse. His crew will first need to keep the hole from opening any wider.

"The immediate thought is to stabilize it against any sort of sudden movement and then we can perform a more in depth repair later on," Griffin said.

There is no immediate concern, however, that the house will be swallowed up by the ground, similar to dramatic sinkholes in Florida.

"I don't believe it's going to fall down," Griffin said. "This isn't like Florida where all the soil runs in. We have good sticky clay and that supports most of the home even though there's a big hole right next to it."

Griffin says the home's structure will weaken since the sinkhole has not been stabilized.  Also since the sinkhole hasn't been stabilized or investigated at this point there's no telling how much larger the hole could get because they don't know the size of the original hole in the bedrock.

Neighbor Latha Chari has been living in the Gettysvue community for ten years.  She was shocked to learn a sinkhole was in the neighborhood. She says the large sinkhole is dangerous for area residents.

"It's a hazardous thing so it is quite dangerous for the entire community, especially the children. We don't want them to fall in and get hurt," said Chari. 

She hopes the sinkhole is repaired quickly.

The homeowner has no comment. 

Griffin says he has no idea if or when the sinkhole will be repaired. He wants homeowners to know the details of their insurance policy when it comes to sinkholes. 

Griffin says sinkholes are very common in East Tennessee.

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