Allentown Sinkhole May Force Graves to Be Moved

Fire officials say 54 graves are threatened by the approaching water

By Teresa Masterson
|  Friday, Dec 30, 2011  |  Updated 5:18 PM EDT
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A water main break caused a large sinkhole in Allentown on Thursday morning. Due to the spread of the sinkhole some residents homes have been condemned.

NBCPhiladelphia.com - Katy Zachry

A water main break caused a large sinkhole in Allentown on Thursday morning. Due to the spread of the sinkhole some residents homes have been condemned.

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A Lehigh County coroner may decide soon whether to move dozens of graves threatened by a sinkhole.

Friday morning Chopper 10 was over the giant cavity in Allentown that caused the evacuation of 15 homes and is only threatening to get bigger.

Lehigh County Deputy Coroner Paul Hoffman tells The Morning Call that Coroner Scott Grim may decide Friday whether to move the graves in Allentown. Fire officials say 54 graves are threatened by the approaching water.

Hoffman says the coroner's office asked the Union and West End Cemetery Association for documents related to the cemetery. Association officials say families own each individual plot and they aren't sure where the graves could be moved.

Five homes have been declared structurally unsafe because of the sinkhole, which formed Thursday morning when authorities discovered a water main break. Officials aren't sure which happened first, the water main break or the sinkhole.

Twenty-five Allentown residents were forced out of their homes Thursday as the sinkhole spread. Officials say that the sinkhole went under the street as well as under some of the homes and has caused a few of the houses to shift.

No injuries were reported.

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