Sinkhole in St Albans opens up on residential street

The 65ft by 65ft hole 'opened up substantially' overnight

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The Independent Online

A massive sinkhole has opened up on a residential street in St Albans.

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service published a photograph of the hole outside two houses on what looks to be a residential street.

 

The 65ft (20m) diameter hole spreads across a front garden and a driveway on Fontmell Close and is 33ft (10m) deep. 

The fire service said at least 10 people were taken to an evacuation centre set up nearby. 

A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire County Council told The Independent they had been notified about a small hole on the footpath on Monday and that work had been scheduled to fill it in this morning. 

But the fire service received a call at around 1:30am and was told the hole had "opened up substantially" overnight.

Sinkhole opens in St Albans

One resident, Julie Langford, said she had been warned that the hole could take weeks - or possibly months - before the road is fully repaired. 

Ms Langford told Sky News: "I can't walk to work - I have an hour's commute in the morning. The children can walk to school, but when you're a mum with four children it's not easy."

Gas and electric supplies have been cut off to more than 50 properties while emergency crews assess the damage.

I can't walk to work - I have an hour's commute in the morning. The children can walk to school, but when you're a mum with four children it's not easy.

Julie Langford, Fontmell Close resident

In a statement, St Albans City & District Council has said is is arranging overnight accommodation for residents in Fontmell Close and neighbouring Bridle Close. 

It said: "We don't yet know how long people will be affected, but it could be some time so we are advising people to plan accordingly."

Councillor Richard Thake, cabinet member for community safety at Hertfordshire Council, said: "Our priority is to ensure the safety of residents in the area and minimise disruption and to resolve the situation as soon as possible".

The council said they "had no reason to suspect" the hole would collapse.

Sinkholes typically occur in areas where the rock beneath the land surface is porous- usually made of limestone, sandstone and other soft rock.

Water builds up in the rock, sometimes due to a burst water pipe, heavy rainfall or groundwater build up, and gradually erodes it till it collapses.

Additional reporting by PA

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