Sinkhole threatens West End woman's home - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Sinkhole threatens West End woman's home

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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -

A woman in Henrico County fears her home could sink into the ground at any moment. Tammy Young says a sinkhole is spreading across her front lawn. She says it's grown six times as large as last week.

"I can fit my body in there," said Tammy Young. "It's getting bigger," she continued.

The hole in Young's yard is more wide than it is deep. It appears to be a shallow hole, about two feet deep, which is spreading indefinitely underneath the surface of Young's lawn.

Young says the hole is threatening her family. She lives with her father, whose room is closest to the hole.

"My dad's bedroom is right here…The house can collapse. There goes my dad," worried Young.

Young also found a hole, now filled with rocks, across the street in her neighbor's yard. She says those rocks are starting to sink as well.

NBC12 discovered that Young's home may be located near an old, unfilled coal mine. Soil engineer Tom Zannino, of Zannino Engineering in Henrico, says there are old mine sites dating back to the 1700's across the West End.

"(Miners) basically just excavated ... mostly hand equipment, some dynamite…Then they just left the void," explained Zannino.

However, Zannino plotted Young's house on a map of the old mine sites. As it turns out, her home isn't near any of the mines.

"She's outside the coal area," concluded Zannino.

However, Young does live near a Civil War site, where soldiers dug out trenches to protect Richmond.

"The Brigham Road area (where Young lives) would be somewhere out in this vicinity right here," said historian Robert Krick of Richmond National Battlefield Park, while pointing to a Civil War era map. "That's just where the trenches were."

It's uncertain whether old trenches caused the hole in Young's yard. Regardless, she says her battle will continue.

"Everything's going to open up. That's the way I feel about it," said Young.

Young says she's going to hire a soil or geotechnical engineer out to assess the sinkhole.

Anyone who discovers a sinkhole, should contact the county. If the hole is caused by government property, the county may fix it. Officials say Young's hole wasn't triggered by city pipes or land, so it's her responsibility to solve the problem.

Other common causes of sinkholes are broken underground pipes which can carry away soil, weakening the ground. Old wells, or holes dug up by contractors during the building of a home, can also lead to sinkholes.

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