San Diego

Poway Sinkhole As Big As Car Under Surface Snarls Traffic, Compromises Roadway: Authorities

A sinkhole that appeared small on the surface, but could fit an object the size of a car underneath the road, backed up traffic at a busy Poway intersection. 

Calls of a fire engine stuck in a sinkhole came in around 3:15 p.m. Monday at Pomerado Road and Twin Peaks Road.

"It pulled up and I saw it sink down, and it went sideways a bit, and I couldn't figure out if it had a flat or went into a ditch," said witness Krystal Hodges.

All three firefighters on board were not injured, but during rush hour traffic, cars were backed up for at least a mile as crews closed two southbound lanes to investigate. 

A tow truck eventually pulled the engine out of the pit.

"I can't remember in my 13 years here and I was asking my fire chief, who's been with the department for 40 years, and he can't recall a fire engine going through a sinkhole," said Div. Chief Jon Canavan with the Poway Fire Department. "But with all this weather right now and all this rain, we're not surprised."

Engineers on scene told NBC 7 San Diego that although the visible hole is two-by-two feet, underneath the surface, the sinkhole is large enough to fit a Volkswagen car. 

City of Poway public works crews brought in heavy equipment to unearth the cause of the sinkhole.

"In some ways, maybe this was a good indication," said Canavan. "We identified a problem in our street; our city crews are here getting it repaired and hopefully protect the public in time for the next rain." 

El Nino-driven storms dumped heavy rains on the area last week.

The sinkhole opened up around a storm drain engineers say is at least 10 years old, running underneath Pomerado Road. However, they still have not determined a specific cause of the hole.

Crews had the road repaired by about 10 p.m. Monday.

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