Twenty residents evacuated and dozens more stranded after 66-foot sinkhole opens up in suburban cul-de-sac – and they don’t know when they’ll be able to go home
66-feet wide crater found in St Albans, Hertfordshire, at 1am today, five days after a small hole was first spotted
Six families were evacuated from their homes while more than 50 properties are now without gas, water or electricity
Gaping hole – which is 30ft wide – is blocking the street entrance and has left residents marooned in their homes
Council today warned that it was too early to say ‘when or if’ the evacuated residents would be allowed to return
Twenty residents have been evacuated and dozens more are stranded after a 66ft sinkhole opened up overnight in a suburban street in Hertfordshire.
The gaping hole was discovered early this morning in Fontmell Close in the Roman town of St Albans, after spreading across the quiet cul-de-sac and swallowing two front gardens.
Now the six families forced to take temporary shelter have been warned they might never be able to return home, amid fears the ground – which was apparently a former rubbish dump – is unsafe.
The devastating news came as more than 50 homes – including properties in neighbouring streets – were left without gas, water and electricity. There is currently no access to and from the road, unless marooned residents clamber through their neighbours’ gardens.
Speaking this afternoon, amid claims that the hole was continuing to grow, Richard Thake, Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said it was too early to say ‘when or if’ the evacuated residents would be allowed to return home.
Although only a handful of properties have been evacuated, several other families have been advised to leave their homes – but will not be able to claim accommodation costs on insurance unless their property is actually damaged.
Mr Thake said: ‘We will check all the archaeological and geological records. It has been asserted that this was built on a rubbish dump. I have no evidence for that, but we will carry out a full investigation,’ he said.
‘People think the ground under their feet is safe. It must come as an awful shock to discover it might not be. Until the results of the investigation are known it is not possible to say when, or if, people can return to their homes.’
Residents say they first became aware of a small ‘sagging’ hole last week after a postman tripped over it during his delivery round. The council, which inspected and cordoned off the hole last week, was due to fill the hole today.