PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — After a wet spell unusual even for Portland, a second homeowner has found a sinkhole in the yard, but this one didn’t swallow anybody.
Firefighters on Wednesday put up yellow tape around a 20-foot-deep hole at the southeast Portland home of Justin Nguyen, who said he’d leave until he figures out what caused the hole and how to repair it.
“It might spread wider. If you add more weight to edge of the sinkhole, it could fall down there,” he said.
A day earlier, a faculty member at Oregon Health and Science University and her puppy were trapped for 45 minutes in a hole that city workers determined was an old cesspool that collapsed.
A passer-by heard Kelly Ryan crying for help, stuck in muck 15 to 20 feet down. Firefighters rescued her and the 18-week-old Newfoundland dog unharmed.
The city has gotten more than 5 inches of rain over the past four weeks, a good share of it in hard downfalls that contrast with the usual winter drizzle.
Ross Caron of the city Bureau of Development Services said it would be up to the homeowner to determine what caused the collapse of the cesspool that likely dated to the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, before public sewer lines.
Sewer work recently had been done to split a shared line with a neighbor, The Oregonian reported (http://bit.ly/1ebpJt1).
Caron said it’s not uncommon to find cesspools that haven’t been filled by going through the city’s decommissioning process. “But a cesspool sinkhole is rare,” he said.
“There are thousands of these cesspools in the Portland metro area,” said Mike Runyan of Environmental Works. The company finds and decommissions old cesspools, work that can run to $1,700.
He said dangerous cesspools are most often found at homes built before the 1930s, and some have higher risk because they weren’t properly filled.