A sinkhole opened up in a Lake County neighborhood early Monday morning, collapsing the road and leaving residents in 15 homes stuck in their subdivision.
The large hole opened up around 2 a.m. in the Hartwood Reserve subdivision in Clermont, off of Hartwood Marsh Road, south of State Road 50.
The hole is in the middle of the road at the intersection of Peaceful Valley Drive and Powderhorn Place Drive. No houses appeared to be in immediate danger, but people in 15 homes in a cul de sac behind the sinkhole were unable to leave their neighborhood by car Monday morning.
"This road is a cul de sac, and there's no way out. This is it," said Miles Hensley, who was trying to leave the neighborhood to get breakfast. "I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't want to drive around; it might just crush. So, I guess I'll go out the back -- I don't know, through the field -- I don't know."
Clermont Fire officials said the hole was 15 feet wide. Emergency crews surrounded the hole with police tape, traffic cones and construction barriers. A geotechnical engineer on site has begun trying to figure out what caused the sinkhole, and if there was any chance of it getting any bigger.
Clermont Public Works crews brought in ground-up asphalt to create a ramp over a curb to allow homeowners in the cul de sac behind the sinkhole to drive around the sinkhole through a homeowner's front yard.
"The hole is in the middle of the street, so not an easy location for people to be able to get to and from their homes," said Derek Morgan with Sentry Management, which runs the homeowners association. "My understanding is the city has determined that, at this time, the adjacent area appears to be solid and a good way for them to be able to get in."
Norma Sweeney, who lives in the cul de sac, said she had guests visit just hours before the sinkhole opened.
"I just passed over that area last night at 11 o'clock," said Sweeney. "I had friends that came to visit me last night, and there's even a bus stop right here, so it could be worse."
This is the second hole to open in up the same neighborhood in two years. A smaller hole in July 2012 just down the street was caused by a leaking sprinkler system or sewage pipe. Engineers were working to see if the two holes could be related.
Firefighters said they didn't observe any other hazards from Monday's sinkhole, but noted a gas line and water main were nearby. Those utilities, however, did not appear to be disturbed by the hole.
Because the subdivision is considered private property, it will be up to Hartwood Reserve's homeowners association to pay to fix the hole.
Sentry Management said an engineer from Bechtol Engineering & Testing, in DeLand, has made a preliminary assessment of the scene. Only a geologist or engineer can officially confirm when a sinkhole is present.
The management company said the engineer would conduct some borings near the sinkhole and advised managers to keep an eye on it for the next 24 hours.
The city said it would also have residents in the cul de sac to label their garbage cans and bring them to the other side of the sinkhole for Monday's scheduled trash collection.