A 100-foot-long sinkhole has ripped through the edge of a retention pond in the Fore Ranch subdivision off State Road 200, leading to the evacuation of one townhome building.
Ocala police Lt. Tara Woods said city emergency officials ordered people to leave the building nearest the hole, which measures about 40 feet wide and at least 10 feet deep. The building is comprised of eight units.
Woods said officers helped in the evacuation and that residents were cooperative. She didn’t know when the largest of the sinkholes appeared, but the initial emergency call came about 8 a.m. Monday.
A resident who was watching city and other emergency crew members work said the sinkhole was not there when she arrived home Sunday night.
At least three other smaller holes, between a few feet wide and about 15 feet wide, opened around the larger hole.
The sinkholes are in the Wynchase section of Fore Ranch, near Southwest 52nd Terrace and Southwest 42nd Street.
Woods stationed a police officer to remain at the site throughout Monday in case area residents need help. Meantime, Fore Ranch management ordered media members to leave the gated community after a reporter talked with residents.
Katrina Enderle, 26, lives in a condominium building next to the evacuated structure. Enderle, who is from Minnesota, said this was the first sinkhole she has seen.
“Well, it’s a little surprising,” she said, standing behind yellow warning tape. “I was talking to a neighbor … hoping we just wouldn’t drop in.”
The series of sinkholes is less than a mile from an even larger sinkhole that opened in Fore Ranch more than a year ago.
City of Ocala spokesman Sonny Allen said the city is now allowing geologists hired by Fore Ranch, Geotech Engineering & Testing, to examine the sinkhole and will only get further involved if there is additional risk to people’s safety.
Woods said crews were scheduled to begin filling the sinkhole Monday.