Several factors make Alabama vulnerable to sinkholes - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Several factors make Alabama vulnerable to sinkholes

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This sinkhole is located on Barber Court in Homewood. Source: Vanessa Araiza This sinkhole is located on Barber Court in Homewood. Source: Vanessa Araiza
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Alex Dotson drives by them every day. Just inches from where Dotson and other drivers fly by on Barber Court in Homewood sits not one but three sinkholes.

"It wasn't covered the first couple of days and then they finally put this guard up and I guess after a couple of people ran into it," said Dotson.

The owner of the gas station nearby said the holes have already been fixed once but recently opened back up.

Chuck Burgin is an environmental engineer and is fascinated with sinkholes. He said for Alabama to have them is far from uncommon. Our state is one of seven with the perfect factors to create them.

"Part of it is because we have abandoned underground coal mines and the other things that we have, rock that's capable of dissolving," said Burgin.

He said over time, often thousands of years later, acidic water drains into cavities and cracks and as it builds up it eventually causes the ground above to cave in.

"Sinkholes can range in size anywhere from inches and we've seen those in Shelby County up to hundreds of feet," said Burgin.

While there is truly nothing you can do to prevent a sinkhole from happening there are things to look out for.

"In your yard look for areas that start holding water, where the water doesn't drain away. Look for impressions in your yard. Start looking for cracks in the walls that were never there before," Burgin said.

Thursday morning in Birmingham the front wheel of an 18 wheeler got stuck in a sinkhole at 27th Avenue North. It was caused by a water main break that was fixed earlier that day.

While there has been a lot of talk of the Florida sinkhole and the one in north Birmingham, Burgin said people do not need to worry about where they step.

He said just because that incident in Florida happened doesn't mean it's going to happen here.

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