Family’s subsidence hole no lizard lair


SUBSIDENCE: Karl and Trish Simandl and Trish’s son Jye Callaghan, who first noticed something odd about the hole in their backyard when Jye dropped rocks in it. Pictures: Ryan Osland

FOR close to 10 years the Simandl family of Cardiff South thought they had a small lizard or snake hole in their backyard.

“My husband and 13-year-old son had been eyeing it off for years and we just put it down to a blue tongue that we’d seen in the yard or something similar,” Trish Simandl said.

Last week her son Jye Callaghan dropped some rocks down the hole and noticed they “just fell through”.

It was then Karl Simandl went to investigate with a shovel and exposed old shallow mine workings in the family’s Helen Street backyard.

DEEP IN THE GROUND: Karl Simandl uncovers the hole, in close up below, which will be filled in by the Mine Subsidence Board.

“Karl was digging and noticed the dirt just kept falling through the hole and after a while we realised what it was so he stopped,” Mrs Simandl said.

“It’s quite scary to think it was there in the backyard all along and we had no idea.”

Mine Subsidence Board workers visited the property this week and fenced off the subsided area.

Mrs Simandl said they told the family some of the house piers had sunk and would need fixing.

“Initially they thought it would just take a few wheelbarrows of concrete to fill the hole, but now they’re talking about needing a truck,” she said.

“It’s at least five metres deep and about six metres wide from what we know.

DEEP IN THE GROUND: Karl Simandl uncovers the hole, in close up below, which will be filled in by the Mine Subsidence Board.

“We did an extension some years back and because there are so many old mines in this area it had to be approved by the Mine Subsidence Board and they’ve said they’ll be fixing the piers too.”

Mine Subsidence Board chief executive Greg Cole-Clark said the hole was likely caused by water making its way into old mine workings.

He said the board dealt with up to 150 cases of holes created by shallow coalmine workings each year.

The Newcastle Herald reported last month that a family had to be evacuated from a luxury waterfront home at Swansea Heads after the corner of the building collapsed into old mine workings.

A second sinkhole opened in a front garden two houses away the next day.

Mrs Simandl said she was unsure what mine caused the hole in her backyard, but she was glad it would be filled.

“You certainly wouldn’t want anyone falling down it that’s for sure,” she said.

“In the 10 years we’ve been here we have never heard anything like this happening in the area.”

Work is expected to start at the house today.

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