A Baltimore sinkhole has opened up on the city’s northeast side this week, sucking in multiple cars parked on the street and forcing residents of several houses to evacuate. Officials are trying to determine the stability of the region and just how big this latest sinkhole is. The block-long sinkhole opened up around 26th Street & N. Charles Street, near railway tracks used by CSX.
According to an April 30 report from The Associated Press, as carried on MSN News, the sinkhole first opened up Wednesday afternoon. A block of rowhouses had to be evacuated. The city has called in building inspectors and structural engineers who are assessing the damage. No injuries have been reported.
Rainy spring weather may have contributed to the formation of the sinkhole, or triggered its giving way. Baltimore has been drenched with over 24 straight hours of rain. The mayor’s office in Baltimore tweeted out a warning to residents:
Please avoid the area of 26th St & N Charles St. A major sinkhole has opened impacting the CSX rail below... Multiple city agencies on scene. @BaltimoreOEM
Railway trains have been suspended through the area as well. According to NBC News, the embankment next to the railway tracks collapsed, spilling dirt, cars and debris onto the tracks.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake reported relief at the fact no one was injured. “We’re extremely blessed that were talking about property damage and damage to the streets and not any loss of life,” she said. Rawlings-Blake was unable to provide any kind of timeline yet as to when the area would be cleaned up or when residents would be allowed to return to their homes.
Onlookers were cautioned to stay clear of the area, which has been cordoned off by police. Several cars are teetering on their side near the sinkhole. The homes near the sinkhole, called Pastel Row because of their different colors, were all built between 1890 and 1920.
Diane Shaw, an employee with the Leffler Agency, said she heard the collapse from her office on North Charles Street. She said it sounded like a car accident, with metal hitting and grinding. "We all assumed it was an accident because this intersection is really bad for that.” Shaw said. “I know CSX won’t be running for awhile because those cars are lying on the middle of the track.”
It didn’t take long for them to realize it wasn’t an accident. As employees looked out the window, they saw that an entire row of cars were gone. “The building shook almost like the earthquake but not quite as bad. … I came out and the street was gone. Just like that,” said Bob Leffler, founder and president of the agency. Witnesses said the collapse took about 15 seconds.