MASCOT, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knox County family is uncertain about how to deal with a huge hole that opened up on their property in Mascot. The state says the large hole is the result of a mine collapse and the failure of an underground mine room.

Both Savannah Browning, who owns the property, and her mother-in-law, who has a home on the site, say the hole continues to grow larger. Browning, her husband, and her children, plus her mother-in-law and other family members live in the Mascot community where underground zinc mining started more than 100 years ago.

“I saw the biggest opening that I had ever seen. Oh, it was terrifying. It was horrifying. We had no idea the earth could just disappear that way,” said Browning.

Documents obtained from the state indicate some of the mine workings in the east Knox County community were more than a hundred feet below ground.

Browning and her husband bought nearly nine acres of property in Mascot last December. Other family members moved into the homes at the site. Her mother-in-law lives next to the large garage which could potentially collapse because of the hole.

“This was my driveway, this is where I had driven three times the day before. I had been using this as my driveway for a year or more,” said Linda Moore.

TDEC, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation took these pictures as part of its investigation.

“At the bottom, you will see a throat, a hole that opens up into another area, deeper and further. It is petrifying. You can’t come on this property anymore over here. We don’t know what is going to happen. We hear things and we think our garage is going to fall in. Every time it rains, more and more dirt falls in. And as you can see, the back corner of the garage has nothing under it,” said Moore.

Browning has two sons, they’re 3 and 7 years of age. She doesn’t let them near the garage.

“There isn’t a moment where I don’t watch them when they are outside because they could run up here. The ground could open up somewhere else. You just don’t know,” said Browning.

In its report, TDEC says “the void appears consistent with underground mine workings.” Its images show “roof bolts” and other hardware associated with mining.

“It’s just been in the last few months that we found out that this is an old mine. Mine number 1,” said Moore.

In a 2006 Bankruptcy document, ASARCO sold the zinc mining business to a new company that presently owns the underground rights.

“Nyrstar was able to purchase the mineral rights for all of this land. When they did so, they put a clause in the bankruptcy document that stated Nystar is not liable for any past, present, or future damages or claims,” said Browning.

TDEC tells WATE, it is “not aware of any other holes attributed to mine roof collapses” in the Mascot community. However, Moore and her daughter-in-law say they are “left with someone else’s mess threatening their lives.”

“We don’t want to live in fear anymore,” said Moore.

WATE contacted Nyrstar. The company said in a statement, “it is aware of the Browning’s concerns.” The mining business said it is, “doing its own due diligence, has visited the property and is available to cooperate with assessments,” undertaken by the state of Tennessee.

TDEC tells us that while the state “does not have regulatory jurisdiction,” it continues to provide technical assistance to the families. Browning and Moore say they are grateful for the help the state has provided.

A public meeting is scheduled for late next week on the issue and its possible ramifications. The meeting will be at the Methodist Church in Mascot on August 19.