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Broken Pipes May Be To Blame For Sinkhole Swallowing Lake County Homes

LAKEPORT (CBS SF) - Homeowners in Lakeport, just above Clear Lake, finally have a possible explanation as to why the land around them is slipping away, leaving broken and vacant houses behind.

Eight homes have been abandoned and 10 more could sink in the now largely-abandoned subdivision.

Lakeport resident Randall Fitzgerald estimates that roughly half a million gallons of water may have leaked from county pipe into the hillside from broken county pipes. If so, that could have contributed to the moving soil.

The theory could also provide financial relief to homeowners. If the leaking water explination fails hydrological and geotechnical tests, homeowners could be stuck with no insurance.

"So, people that are facing bankruptcy, people that are facing displacement from their homes, and no insurance coverage, and at the same time, insult to injury, they have to demolish at their own expense?" worried Fitzgerald.

The slide has been called a disaster in slow motion.

"There's a crack completely across it. You can visually see a drop in elevation between the upper part and the lower part up at the north end of Lancaster. So these are all signs that there's still movement," said Special Districts Administrator Mark Dellinger.

A few more weeks of soil testing will be required to determine exactly what is happening under ground. One supervisor suggested that the slide may be the accumulation construction, soil and piping issues.

"I think there's a number of different variables that are contributing to what we're seeing happen, today," said Lake County Supervisor Anthony Farrington.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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