Sinkhole threatens to swallow Florida neighborhood

A massive sinkhole opened up in a Florida front lawn over the weekend and is now threatening to consume several Tampa-area homes.

The gaping crater measuring 40 feet wide and 30 feet deep appeared in Spring Hill, located about 50 miles north of Tampa, and comes little more than a year after a similar sinkhole swallowed a Tampa man while he slept.

Linda Fisher — who was out of town when ground crumbled away near her home — returned Sunday to retrieve her belongings, including her cat, before evacuating.

City officials were scheduled to survey the site Monday to determine if her neighbors' homes are safe.

"It's devastating," Fisher, 64, told WTSP-TV. "You don't expect it."

Perhaps she should have. Sinkholes like the one that partially swallowed Fisher's street and front yard are common in the Sunshine State.

In March 2013, a 30-foot wide, 20-foot deep sinkhole near Tampa swallowed 36-year-old Jeff Bush as he slept in his bed. His body was never recovered.

No one was hurt by the Spring Hill sinkhole, but authorities say rain may force evacuations of three surrounding homes.

The owner of one of them, Peggy Helmick, called authorities on Saturday night after she spotted the sinkhole forming in the road.

"We were watching the Earth crumble," Helmick told the Tampa Bay Times.