Sinkhole the size of a small pool opens up on San Francisco street

A new space had its grand opening in San Francisco's Richmond district Wednesday morning. But you wouldn't want to step inside.

That's because it's a giant sinkhole.


After days of rain and apparently two previously undiscovered pipe breaks, the 20-by-20-foot hole opened in the middle of Lake Street and Sixth Avenue in San Francisco about 8 a.m. Wednesday. Fortunately, it didn't take any cars with it.

"It's pretty dramatic," said Jean Walsh, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. "It started forming, got bigger, and then soon became a gaping hole in the street."

Walsh estimates that a sewer line collapsed and over time compromised the earth around it. As the ground collapsed, it ruptured an 8-inch water main above the sewer line, exacerbating the problem. By Wednesday morning, the hole opened wide, Walsh said.

"It's not that uncommon. There was one a year ago. It happens," she said.

A storm that's been hovering over the Bay Area for days has kept the commission's utility workers scrambling all week clearing clogged flood basins and blocking flooded streets.

"This is our biggest day of the year," she said.

Wednesday's water main break cut off water to customers in a two-block radius, Walsh said. Residents should have water back by the evening and the pipes and road could be fully repaired by Thursday night, she said.

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