Baltimore Sinkhole Swallows Up Residential Cars

A Baltimore sinkhole is responsible for swallowing up several cars on a residential street. There were several evacuations as the sinkhole deepened and residents watched helplessly as vehicles entered the ground.

Nels Schumacher is one of those residents, standing in the rain on 26th Street Wednesday afternoon and watched, helpless, as his station wagon sank lower and lower.

He had arrived at his home on the street not long before a neighbor came banging on the door about 3:45 p.m., yelling, “Your car is sinking!”

Schumacher told the Baltimore Sun said it started slowly, the sidewalk and street moving inch by inch — until the sidewalk, a chunk of the street and a retaining wall fell with a “whoosh” onto the CSX tracks. As many as six cars appeared to have gone down with the street, including Schumacher’s 1997 Saturn station wagon, which lay upside-down on the tracks.

Jim Zitzer was looking out his bedroom window on 26th Street when he saw cars parked across the street start to tilt toward the tracks below. By the time he put on his jacket and got out to his front steps, they tumbled some 30 feet below.

“My wife and I haven’t been parking on that side of the street for years because we knew it was going to happen,” said Zitzer, a retired engineer who said he had noticed a crack running parallel to the sidewalk nearly the length of the block.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake said a sidewalk and retaining wall slid with mud and debris onto railroad tracks used by CSX on Wednesday afternoon. Blake said all of the houses on the block had been evacuated, although she did not say how many.

Department of Public Works engineers were inspecting the rest of the street while gas and electric crews examined a gas line.

Rawlings-Blake said it was too soon to determine what caused the collapse. The National Weather Service says more than 3 inches of rain have fallen on the Baltimore area since Tuesday afternoon.

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