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Monday January 24th

Ford Explorer partially sunk in Pritchard Avenue sinkhole

<p>A sinkhole formed on Pritchard Avenue last night. Photo courtesy of&nbsp;Alicia Richards.</p>
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A sinkhole formed on Pritchard Avenue last night. Photo courtesy of Alicia Richards.

The sinkhole formed after a waterline burst below the road’s surface.

A Ford Explorer that was parked on the street sank partway into the hole.

Alicia Richards, a UNC senior and Pritchard Avenue resident, said the water in her house went out around 12:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Richards had a green face mask on when the water went out, and said she had to stand outside in the rain to wash the mask off.

“We couldn’t turn any sinks or showers on; couldn’t flush the toilet,” Richards said.

She said she discovered the sinkhole when police officers knocked on her door to determine who owned the Ford Explorer.

“It wasn’t any of ours, but we (saw) one of its back wheels sinking into the pavement,” Richards said.

She said her roommate compared the pavement to butter.

“It was just melting,” Richards said.

She said one of the officers said the hole was about five feet deep.

“When I stopped watching at 4 a.m., they had two tow trucks trying to leverage (the car) out of the hole,” Richards said.

Richards said responders told her it would take about a week to replace the section of the road.

“They’re replacing it because of the sinkhole,” she said.

“It was a Ford Explorer — imagine a Ford Explorer-sized hole in the ground.”

Mary Claire Brogden, also a UNC senior, lives next door to Richards on Pritchard Avenue. She said at least nine houses on Pritchard Avenue were affected by the waterline bursting.

Brogden said people from the Orange Water and Sewage Authority testing facility took water samples from her house to determine whether or not the water was contaminated after the water line burst.

Brogden said OWASA told the residents in her house to sterilize their water by boiling it or drink bottled water in order to avoid drinking any contaminated water.

“They want to ensure that (the water) is safe before allowing anybody to drink it,” she said.

Brogden said OWASA will alert them within 24 hours if the advisory is lifted.

According to her, the Ford Explorer belongs to her roommate’s boyfriend. He was told Thursday morning.

Richards and Brogden both said the water came back on in their respective houses around 11 a.m. or noon Thursday.

Brogden said the sinkhole looked like it had been filled in with gravel, and by 2:50 p.m., the workers had left Pritchard Avenue.

Greg Feller, public affairs administrator at OWASA, said he had not heard of a sinkhole as of Thursday morning.

“I understood this morning that we needed to do a repair to a waterline on Pritchard Avenue,” he said.

Barry McLamb, emergency management coordinator for the town of Chapel Hill, said Pritchard Avenue has been reopened.



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