50-foot wide sinkhole opens up in DeLand

DELAND, Fla. — A large sinkhole was the talk of Volusia County on Thursday.

The sinkhole opened just before noon in a gravel parking lot in the DeLand area, uprooting a large tree and damaging some power lines.

Officials said it could grow, and they will keep a close watch on it over the next day or two.

The sinkhole is inside a fenced-in pasture and was more than 50 feet long and 20 feet across.

There is a barn about 50 paces away and a house about 100 paces. That is a little too close for comfort for the homeowner and local farm workers.

"Because, you know, all these ferneries around here, these people are always working. It could have opened up in the fernery where they were working. There are crews working in this one right now," said Bill Batten, a neighbor.

SkyWitness 9-HD flew over the sinkhole shortly after it opened at the end of a long dirt road off U.S. Route 17 near DeLeon Springs.

The pit is a good 20 feet deep; big enough to swallow a very large tree.

One of the landowner's horses was nearby when it happened. 

"The horse usually stands in that corner there, where the sinkhole is," said Batten. "And Jerry saw the horse running; he thought the tree fell."

The tree did fall, right onto some power lines, which complicated matters.

A Progress Energy crew took care of that while firefighters marked the edges of the hole with spray paint to determine whether it's growing.

Nobody was injured, including the horse, who is now safely inside.

"He was in there whinnying when I came up. Either he was scared or wanting out," said Batten.

A company specializing in filling sinkholes has been called.

Neighbors said they remember another large pit opened in this area several years ago.