Source AP ©

1 house destroyed and 5 others damaged by sinkhole in California

A sinkhole in a California neighborhood destroyed one house Wednesday and damaged five others.

Twenty homes were evacuated as the 50-yard (46-meter) long, 15-foot (4.5-meter) deep sinkhole crumpled a four-lane highway and caused power lines to fall.

"The street was sinking before our eyes," said Holli Weld, who was walking her son to preschool at the time.

Two other homes were in danger, said Robert Hawk, a city engineering geologist. But the damaged area appeared to be contained, he added.

Electricity was initially cut off to 2,400 customers but restored to 2,000 within two hours, according to San Diego Gas & Electric Co. Gas was cut off to about a dozen customers.

About two hours after the morning collapse, the situation appeared stable, City Attorney Michael Aguirre said.

At least three significant hill slides have occurred in the area between 1961 and 1994, including a major failure in 1961 that destroyed seven homes under construction.

The city began noticing cracks on the road in July and became concerned about a landslide three or four weeks ago.

The city sent warning letters to residents Monday and Tuesday, and an outside firm hired by the city recommended Tuesday that four homes be evacuated, Hawk said.

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