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Demolition is underway for home of sinkhole victim

10:32 AM, Mar 3, 2013   |    comments
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(AP) -- Crews planned to begin demolishing a Florida home Sunday that is perched over a huge sinkhole, deeming it too dangerous to keep searching for the man swallowed into the earth from his bedroom.

Jeff Bush, 37, was in his bedroom Thursday night in his Seffner, Fla., when the earth opened and took him and everything else in his room. On Saturday, officials ended the attempt to find Bush's body.

Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said heavy equipment would be brought in to begin razing the home Sunday morning. "At this point it's really not possible to recover the body," Merrill said, later adding "we're dealing with a very unusual sinkhole."

Jessica Damico, spokeswoman for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, said the demolition equipment would be placed on what they believe is solid ground and reach onto the property to pull apart the house, located about 15 miles east of Tampa. The crew will try pulling part of the house away from the sinkhole intact so some of the residents' keepsakes can be retrieved.

On Saturday, Damico said the sinkhole could stretch to as much as 100 feet across directly beneath the surface and plummet up to 60 feet deep into the earth.

Sinkholes are common in Florida, but it's rare when one opens up under a home and takes a person with it, she said.

"I can't think of anywhere in the country where this has happened before," Damico said. "This is very unique."

Bush, was in his bedroom in the one-story home on Faithview Drive at about 11 p.m. Thursday when the sinkhole yawned directly under him, taking him, his bed and the rest of his bedroom furniture as well, Damico said.

His brother jumped into the hole to try to save Bush but had to be rescued himself by a sheriff's deputy. Five other residents, including a small child, made it out of the home unharmed, Damico said. Bush could not be rescued and is presumed dead.

Two adjoining houses - one on either side of Bush's - were evacuated by rescue workers.

Florida is highly prone to sinkholes because there are caverns below ground of limestone, a porous rock that easily dissolves in water.

"You can almost envision a piece of Swiss cheese," said Taylor Yarkosky, a sinkhole expert from Brooksville, Fla. "Any house in Florida could be in that same situation."

Associated Press

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