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Mt. Oliver homes' sinking problems a mystery

| Sunday, July 14, 2013, 12:05 a.m.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
A sign posted on one of five houses along Frederick Street in Mount Oliver Saturday, July 13, 2013. The Mount Oliver Police Department placed them there after the ground beneath them began to shift and sink. The residents were told they have to get out because there is danger of collapse. It has not been determined what the cause is yet.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
Two of five houses (the other two are across the street) that have been taped off on Frederick Street in Mt. Oliver Saturday, July 13, 2013. The ground has been shifting and sinking beneath them for reasons unknown, and the residents were told they had to get out.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
A house along Frederick Street in Mount Oliver Saturday, July 13, 2013 that has large cracks and loose bricks. The ground beneath five houses on the street has been shifting and sinking for reasons unknown, and the residents were told that they have to get out.

Mine subsidence probably caused several homes to shift off their foundations in Mount Oliver, according to state environmental regulators who will be on site Monday to test that theory.

The Department of Environmental Protection began investigating on the 100 block of Frederick Street Saturday morning, state and local officials said. DEP plans to return Monday to take core samples from below ground, which is how they'll tell what caused foundations to crack and sink last week, DEP regional spokesman John Poister said.

Fluorescent yellow do-not-enter signs closed off five homes Saturday afternoon.

Foundations appeared to shift more overnight. A pillar on the front of one home was several inches away from the porch roof it had been supporting.

“I've very concerned. Very very concerned. (This home's) all I got,” said Ray Augustine, 56, as he sat on his porch just outside the evacuation area. “I felt terrible for (neighbors). They had no place to go.”

Augustine and others there have said they suspected broken water pipes had been the cause. Pennsylvania American Water officials have denied that.

The American Red Cross provided food and shelter to five adults and six children after the evacuations started Friday.

Columbia Gas had not found any leaks or damage as of Saturday, an official on site said. The company is surveying the block once a day.

“I don't think it's anything real serious to worry about,” said George Adams, 65, who lives three doors down from the evacuation zone. “It ain't no real big deal unless you see a house sink down into the ground.”

Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or tpuko@tribweb.com.

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