FAIRVIEW, Tenn. – Last week’s heavy rains may be responsible for opening a 9-foot wide, 50-foot deep sinkhole along the edge of Dean and Trisha Parker’s yard in Fairview.
Steven Brison, 26, a family friend, knows it’s that deep because he rappelled to the bottom and measured it. He found 30 feet down, off to the side, was a 10 x 10-foot “room” with 12-foot ceilings. At 50 feet down, in the opposite direction, is a 20 x 20-foot “room” with 8-foot ceilings. From there is a 6-foot tunnel that heads toward Cumberland Drive, which runs in front of the homes, he said.
“Mother Nature made it Thursday night when she poured 4 inches of rain on us,” Brison said.
Experts at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Archaeology agree with Brison’s assessment, saying they “believe this is a natural phenomenon that occurs around sinkholes and caves; it’s more geological in nature and not archaeological,” said TDEC communications director Meg Lockhart.
The hole formed on the right-of-way of a third home owned by Michael King, which is a few hundred feet behind the two homes. The area where it formed is the lowest place among the homes where rainwater always collects.
Randal Lampley, 63, who has lived in the home on the other side of the hole for about 14 years, noted the standing water quickly disappears after a heavy rain and “I have always wondered where the water went,” he said.
Lampley, who has had a small sinkhole beside the shed behind his house for years, said he believes the one that formed recently “has been under there for years and years. I never had any idea there were any holes like that; if I had known I wouldn’t have bought a house here.”
Dean and Trisha Parker, whose home sits about 40 feet from the hole, first noticed it early Friday morning.
“We are just hoping to get some answers on what can be done about it,” Dean Parker said. “We are concerned about whether it tunnels under the road. With traffic on it, it could give way, too. We just want everybody in the neighborhood to be aware of what could be under their yards around here.”
The Parkers have asked both the city of Fairview and Williamson County to send out engineers to assess what can be done about the sinkhole.
“Williamson County Emergency Management Agency is working actively with state agencies to address the situation,” said EMA Director Mac Purdy.
“In the meantime,” Lampley said, “I am worried about somebody falling in it.”
The sinkhole has revealed a cavern.
The homeowner, Trish Parker, found the hole Friday morning after heavy rains the day before.
Fairview resident Steven Brison explored the hole this weekend. He said about 20 feet below the ground, there is an 8 x 8 foot opening where there is a 6 foot tunnel that runs towards Cumberland Drive. And below the 8-foot room there is a 20 x 20 room that has a 12-foot ceiling.