A sinkhole in a Kings County road southeast of Hanford is being blamed for a solo car accident, the California Highway Patrol said.
The sinkhole emerged where Houston Avenue crosses an irrigation canal southeast of Hanford that has water after years of drought.
The sinkhole on Houston east of 6th Avenue emerged about 10:30 p.m. Sunday just as a semi-truck drove on the road, Sgt. Ken McCord said.
A Dodge Charger behind the truck drove into the sinkhole, causing three tires to blow out and three tire rims to be damaged. The driver was not injured but the car needed a tow. About a minute later, another car hit the sinkhole but could still be driven.
Kings County has closed the road until it can be repaired.
This is the fourth sinkhole to develop in Kings County and Hanford, McCord said. All are in areas where the road crosses an irrigation canal.
Consulting engineer Dennis Keller of Visalia said summer water runs after years of drought may be exposing problems of land subsidence, leaks or both in the region.
“We’re running water for the first time in three years,” Keller said.
In areas where land has subsided, a culvert pipe may stay in place until water runs through it.
“All of a sudden, you load it with water, the soil starts collapsing,” he said. “It makes a hole in the surface.”
Similarly, a leak in the pipe can cause eroding of the earth under the pipe, followed by a collapse and sinkhole, he said.