Fire department nearly loses truck in sinkhole

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Hollywood, Calif, (KNX) - A Hollywood fire crew prevented a Rosenbauer fire engine from falling into a sinkhole this week after a water main break – and they also managed to save a woman at the scene.

KNX reported that the crew responded to Fountain Avenue – where a geyser had developed due to the main break – in the 40,000 pound all electric fire engine. According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, its Rosenbauer RTX arrived last March and is stationed at LAFD Station 82 in Hollywood.

Upon arrival at approximately 9:30 p.m. Thursday, the fire crew found a flooded home and a geyser shooting water 70 feet in the air. Soon after, the street at the 6000 block of W. Fountain Avenue began to give way.

“As the crew heard the street begin to rumble under the fire engine, the apparatus driver (engineer) took off, just as a large hole appeared under them,” said the Los Angeles Fire Department. “The rear of the apparatus fell back into the hole, which grew as the engine struggled to overcome the suddenly precarious position.”

Sinkholes are common issue in areas “where the rock below the land surface is limestone, carbonate rock, salt beds, or rocks that can naturally be dissolved by groundwater circulating through them,” the USGS explained. When this rock dissolves, spaces develop underground.

“Sinkholes are dramatic because the land usually stays intact for a while until the underground spaces just get too big,” said the USGS. “If there is not enough support for the land above the spaces, then a sudden collapse of the land surface can occur.”

Just last month, Audacy reported that an Amazon delivery driver got trapped in a septic tank sinkhole 13 feet underground in Apple Valley, Calif.

When the road began to collapse under engine 82 as the Fountain Avenue sinkhole developed, the crew used the “vehicle’s all-wheel drive, and powerful instant engine torque to avoid falling to the bottom of the hole,” KNX reported.

“All of a sudden we felt the ground kind of trembling a little bit and we said, let’s go. And right away we felt the back end drop, I’d say about two feet,” said Captain Ivan Carmona. He explained that they were able to get the engine to safety.

They were also able to save a woman trapped in a home being pounded by the falling stream of water.

“A portion of her roof collapsed, and when crews opened the door to make entry, they were met with a river flowing from behind the door,” said the Los Angeles Fire Department. “Crews were able to rescue the woman, without injury. Her home has now been deemed unsafe to stay in, by Building and Safety. A SAVE card has been issued to help her with temporary lodging.”

The department confirmed that no firefighters nor residents were injured during the incident.

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