LAFAYETTE, Colo. (CBS4) – Crews helped a man escape his SUV after he drove it into a large sinkhole — possibly triggered by an old mine — in Lafayette on Monday.

The sinkhole, about 20 feet wide and filled with at least 10 feet of water, opened in the 700 block of East Cleveland Street. Firefighter crews were on the scene.

There are no plans to make repairs on Monday. However, the state plans to extract the water and fill in the hole on Tuesday. A city spokeswoman says the sinkhole will be filled in within one day, but it will remain blocked from drivers.

Experts said they will monitor the street over the next couple months to see if any more pavement has been compromised. It could be months before Cleveland Street is fully reopened.

Donna Carbone, who lives on the street, said she heard the SUV crash into the hole and get stuck. She took photos while the driver was still inside and trying to get out.

“I saw that both of those tires were not on the pavement and that door was open and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness,’ ” Carbone said.

The driver didn’t appear to be hurt, she said.

Neighbors said ice covered the street — except for the area where the sinkhole formed, and that might have been a warning that something was wrong below the street.

The city said the sinkhole occurred near where the Simpson coal mine was located, which was in production from 1888-1926. It stretched 200 feet underground.

Carbone said sinkholes have appeared in the same location before. Some neighbors blamed a combination of bad weather and the 2013 floods.

“All that moisture going in, if you’ve got anything that’s not quite settled, that will settle it in, and that’s what happened here, I suspect,” resident Kent Brown said.

The Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining & Safety, which handles problems caused by mines throughout Colorado, said it pays to cover claims from homeowners whose land and property are damaged by mines.

Called the Mine Subsidence Protection Program, it draws from a federal grant to pay for damages.

Homeowners who believe their property has been damaged because of mines can find more information at the division’s website.

(credit: CBS4)

(credit: CBS4)

(credit: Donna Carbone)

(credit: Donna Carbone)

(credit: Donna Carbone)

(credit: Donna Carbone)


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