SHARON, Pennsylvania – A sinkhole in Sharon swallowed a portion of family’s front yard Wednesday night and a former coal mine could be to blame.
On the surface, the hole appears to be only three feet wide, but look closer and it’s more like eight feet wide, and 15 to 18 feet deep.
Sharon Sanity Authority Manager Guy Cunningham says he’s not certain whether the sinkhole was caused by a former mine or not.
“It could have been there for three months, could have been there for 100 years, who knows. Like I said, this area has been mined you know, like 100 years ago,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham says it’s unlikely that similar erosion would occur on neighboring properties.
The home on Alcoma Street sits next to the Sharon High School football stadium where another sinkhole opened years ago. The home is currently occupied by renters and the property owner is in the process of handling the repair.
“I mean, I looked at the hole and was like that’s big enough to swallow an adult,” neighbor Dorothy Cerroni said.
The possibility of sinkholes near abandoned mine shafts is something Cerroni knew could happen again. Test drills to locate former mines were performed in the past on her street and so far she hasn’t had any issues on her property.
Youngstown State University Geology Professor Emeritus Ann Harris says historical maps show abandoned mine shafts near or on Alcoma Street that date back to 1888.
Harris believes the gaping dent that was filled with cement Thursday is likely related.
“That sounds about right, because some of the voids were around 27 feet and what happens is material gets washed away from the tunnels and it starts sliding down. So apparently, it hadn’t slid all the way,” Harris said.
Harris says sinkholes near the aging former mines pop up from time to time, especially following soggy and wet weather.
The sinkhole repair could end up costing the property owner close to $2,000.