Lower Burrell man unsure what to do about backyard sinkhole
Jim Davis is used to having a hole filled with water in the backyard of his Lower Burrell home.
That’s his swimming pool.
On Friday, he was trying to figure out what to do about another, unwelcome one — a sinkhole.
Davis, 71, said he noticed an indentation in his yard while walking around clearing branches before cutting his grass. It’s on the opposite side of the yard from the in-ground swimming pool.
When Davis stuck his pitchfork into it, it was clear there was a void underneath.
“There’s nothing there,” he said. “The only thing that’s holding it is the grass.”
He made sure his grandchildren, Aila, 12, and Andy, 10, stayed away.
Pieces of earth plopped into the water at the bottom of the hole as Davis pulled away the grass with a pitchfork. He exposed a hole he guessed was 4 to 5 feet deep. How far it extended outward underground wasn’t clear.
“It’s scary,” he said. “I’m waiting for more of it to cave in.”
Unsure what to do earlier, Davis had called 911. City officials and firefighters responded, but Davis said the city told him it’s his problem to deal with, suggesting he call a plumber.
“They won’t help me,” he said of city officials. “They say it’s on me.”
Public works director Jeff Fleming could not immediately be reached for comment.
As for calling a plumber, “I don’t have money to do that. I live on Social Security. I’m barely making it now.”
Davis checked with his insurance agent but was told his policy won’t cover the situation.
Davis said he has lived in the home for 19 years and has never had anything like this happen.
Later in the day, as the hole got bigger — 6 feet deep, 8 feet wide — Davis said he suspects it to be an old, concrete septic tank.
“I can see the pipe going in and the pipe coming out,” he said.
During Thursday’s heavy rains, Davis said there was water about 4 inches deep in his yard, but that was on the other side of the pool.
“There was no water here,” he said.
His property sits lower than his neighbors’ properties, and his gets water runoff from them.
“I don’t know what to do,” he said.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .