A Bob Evans restaurant was evacuated Sunday after employees discovered cracks that could be evidence of a sinkhole in the same town where a man disappeared in February after a sinkhole opened beneath his home.
Workers spotted the cracks on the restaurant's outside walls as they arrived at about 6 a.m., Hillsborough County Fire and Rescue spokeswoman Nacole Revette said. There were similar cracks inside and on the entrance floor. The ground near a handicap parking spot also appeared to be sloping.
The employees notified their manager, who alerted authorities.
County engineers were working throughout the afternoon to determine the cause of the cracks. Revette noted the restaurant is near a retention pond and said the heavy rains from Tropical Storm Andrea earlier in the week may have caused the ground to become inundated with water, compromising the structure.
She said authorities were also looking to see if a sinkhole could be responsible, though there was no visible hole.
The restaurant is in Seffner, about 14 miles east of Tampa. It is four miles from the site where a giant sinkhole opened beneath a home, killing one man, in February. His body was never recovered. Engineering experts determined it was too dangerous to retrieve his remains, so they demolished the home and filled it with gravel.
Wet weather is known to trigger sinkholes. Acidic rain can cause the limestone and natural caverns lying under much of the state to deteriorate, causing sinkholes.
More Local Stories: