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Crews try to stop spread of Pa. sinkhole

Dec. 30, 2011 at 3:59 PM

ALLENTOWN, Pa., Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Construction workers in Allentown, Pa., Friday were trying to stop the spread of a huge sinkhole that led to evacuations of about 25 residents, officials said.

Some of those evacuated Thursday were allowed to return to their homes to retrieve belongings but the town's mayor said two homes will have to be destroyed and city inspectors were still assessing whether other homes were structurally sound as the sinkhole stretched as wide as a road, leaving some sidewalks suspended in the air, The (Allentown) Morning Call reported.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski said it remained uncertain whether a water main break or a water leak caused the sinkhole.

"It could have been there for decades. How it happened, no one knows," Pawlowski said.

The mayor said the sinkhole continued to threaten Union and West End Cemetery, but many of the markers in the threatened section had been moved from another cemetery and do not mark the actual grave sites.

City workers were to excavate the sinkhole and fill it with a concrete mixture and soil, then repair the street with steel reinforcing rods, the Morning Call said.

Dwayne Glover, the first resident to alert emergency officials, said he had walked into his basement Thursday to try to figure out why his water pressure had dropped. When he walked through a puddle to turn off a water valve, he said, and stepped through the concrete floor.

"It just gave way," Glover said. "We want to know why those pipes busted and how is it that nobody knew of a problem like this."

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