Car nearly lost in Ketchikan sinkhole

Ketchikan Fire responds to sinkhole on Schoenbar Road (Photo from KFD)
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A broken water main in Ketchikan caused a vehicle to nosedive into a sinkhole that opened up, leaving the driver stuck as the vehicle careened forward.

Ketchikan Fire Department (KFD) responded to calls around 5 a.m. Friday and arrived to see the police already on the scene.

In a Facebook post, KFD describes a “heroic rescue of a driver from the flooding vehicle.”


Ketchikan Police and Fire respond to a vehicle stuck in a sinkhole (Photo KFD)

Photos posted on the KFD page show water flooding for at least twenty yards up the road and a red Subaru Outback with its back wheels clinging to the side of a sinkhole filled with water.

Ketchikan Public Utilities Water Division says that the rupture in the water main likely resulted from corrosion and within the 25-year-old pipe. John Kleinnegger of the Water Division said that what began as an eight-foot tear in a “very thin area” spread with the pressure from 1400 gallons per minute of water surging through the line. That washed out the fill that supports the asphalt, opening up the sinkhole.


Photo from Ketchikan Fire Department

Kleinegger said that the utility put in a temporary fix, but has to deal with a permanent repair that is proving difficult in the off-the-road Southeast community.

“We’re waiting for parts to fly in,” he said, “Parts were supposed to be here tomorrow, but now they are saying another one or two days. So that’s not acceptable.”

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