A massive sink hole on a highway in Pittsburg County has state officials worried about what may happen in the future.
The void is 18 feet wide and was created by part of an abandoned coal mine that collapsed. Emergency coordinators say the US Highway 270 collapse could be the first of many.
News on 6 reporter Jennifer Loren says to the average driver a closed lane on US Highway 270 looks like any other small-scale construction project. But the lane is actually closed because of a much larger problem. The highway is sinking.
Henry Roye with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission: "There's just so much traffic and pressure on it, it finally caved in." "It" is actually a hole or a void about 20 feet under the highway and about 4 feet deep. Its part of an abandoned underground coal mine that is finally crumbling after nearly 100 years. And there are hundreds more voids near Krebs, dotted beneath the earth's surface. "Its extremely dangerous if itâ€™s deep enough."
Leon Burke lives a few miles down the highway. He stopped by to tell Roye about another sink hole. "Itâ€™s a sink hole right off the edge of the road about 5 foot in diameter." He says that one is 3-4 feet deep and may be getting bigger.
The Oklahoma Conservation Commission is in charge of fixing the voids. Right now, they are working to fill five of them in the southeastern part of the state. Roye says he's fixed hundreds of voids over the last 20 years. But he says as the mines get older, sink holes are becoming more prevalent and therefore, more dangerous.
Meanwhile, people who live near the old mines say they're just getting used to it. State officials say they hope to permanently fix the sinkhole on US Highway 270 by this Friday.