LA HABRA (CBSLA) — An enormous sinkhole opened up after an underground flood channel collapsed in La Habra, causing trees to collapse and endangering several nearby condos.
The sinkhole formed in a greenbelt between two condominium complexes at the Coyote Creek complex in the 900 block of West Imperial Highway at about 10:45 p.m. Wednesday.
“The whole house shook and it felt like a bunch of cars full on like hit the house,” resident Matt Tucker said.
Tucker was at work when he got a call from his wife telling him the ground in front of their home had given way and a tree had slammed into the front.
The gaping maw between the two buildings is 80 feet long and 20 feet deep. The ground surrounding the sinkhole is so unstable, trees are collapsing into the sinkhole.
“We just couldn’t believe it, we came outside along with everybody else,” resident Reina Menchaca said. “We were just trying to see how deep it went and whatnot.”
At least one condo was damaged when a tree fell. Due to concerns about other collapsing trees, Menchaca and her family and the residents of two other units voluntarily evacuated but have since returned to their homes. No injuries have been reported.
La Habra Mayor James Gomez said the sinkhole appeared to be an “isolated incident”.
“There’s no other indication that this is going to happen anywhere else in the city of La Habra,” he said. “In the over 55 years I’ve lived here, I don’t ever recall this happening in our community.”
The complex rests on a flood control channel that runs to a facility owned by Orange County, but it was unclear who was ultimately responsible for the land.
Homeless people have reportedly been known to stay near the graffiti-plagued area underground where the sinkhole collapsed on top of the control channel. Police dogs were brought in to ensure no one was trapped underground.
But for Tucker, the mound of grass that was above the channel is where families walked their dogs and his kids often played.
“I place no blame on anybody. We need to get it fixed,” he said.
Last week’s major rainfall may have played a role in the forming the sinkhole, according to AJ Jaime from OC Public Works.