Hillsborough County Code Enforcement says depression is likely an old septic tank

12:01 PM, Apr 5, 2013   |    comments
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First pic sinkhole in Ruskin 10 ft from home. Seems family or responders put table in to mark it.
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Ruskin, Florida - Quite a scare for a Ruskin family who left their home for what they thought was a sinkhole in their backyard.

Turns out, it may not be a sinkhole at all.

The home is in the 1300 block of 3rd avenue Northeast.

The sinkhole that took Jeff Bush's life in Seffner is the first thing that went through this family's mind.

Code Enforcement tells us if there are changes to your yard, you should call authorities to have it checked out. That's what this homeowner did, and even thought it's likely not a sinkhole, she says with three kids in the house, she wasn't taking any chances.

A sigh of relief for the Nieves family. They're happy to be home after a scary night thinking a sinkhole was going to open up in their backyard, just feet from their home.

"I was kinda scared, because the first thing that went through my head was the one in Seffner where the guy fell through the house and my kids' bedroom is back there, and I wasn't taking a chance with my kids," says Darlene Nieves, the homeowner.

Darlene's son Justin was playing outside when he stumbled into the 7 foot by 2 foot depression.

"My brother said, 'Watch out!' And I went -- boom -- my whole leg went down and all my friends pulled me out," says Justin Nieves, the homeowner's young son.

After a word of caution from friends and the fire department, Darlene decided to take her family to a hotel.

Hillsborough County Code Enforcement placed a plastic picnic table in the hole to measure whether it changed overnight.

When it didn't, officers probed the ground for more clues.

"It appears we did find sections of the old lid, and it appears we found a section of the old septic tank," says Bill Landford with Hillsborough County Code Enforcement. He believes it's an old septic tank that needs to be properly filled.

"They told us it was a septic tank, which is good cause I don't want a sinkhole in the house," says Nieves.

To be on the safe side, code enforcement covered the hole with plywood until it's fixed.

They say Darlene did the right thing by being cautious.

"Any changes that you're not accustomed to on your property, for your own safety, you should take notice to it," says Langford.

The homeowner will be in touch with their mortgage and insurance companies Friday to see what the next steps are for filling it in.

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