MINE HILL, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A family in Morris County was left with a major bill to pay, after a history of mining in their town came back to haunt them.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, a giant sink hole just 14 feet from the family’s Mine Hill home opened up last week. It’s a remnant of an old mine that existed long before West Randolph Avenue did.

“I was coming home from work and walking up the steps and I noticed the big hole in the side of the yard,” Andrew Kauf said.

He discovered the 19-foot deep hole on December 30. The next morning he said he was woken up by a loud thud. The hole had gotten bigger, creating another smaller opening.

The family was on pins and needles, afraid that the house will fall in.

Engineers assured them that will not happen.

The house has been in the Kauf family since the 1970s. He said he knew about old mines dating back to the Revolutionary War, but never expected after all these years that one would open up.

“A few houses down basements fell in,” he said.

Luckily there were no gas lines below, and other utilities seem to be a safe distance away, but the cost to fill the hole is high at $10,000 and up.

Large boulders are needed, and it’s not cheap to transport them.

The mayor said the Kauf’s sink hole isn’t the only one. Another one, about 20 feet deep, was discovered by someone walking their dog.

Sam Morris has been the mayor for five years.

“Since I’ve been mayor seven active holes that opened up, three residential, four on non,” Morris explained.

Support beams were visible in the woods off Canfield Avenue.

“What you would call entry hole to mine shaft, clear hole in the bed rock which is what you need to get through to the iron ore,” Morris explained.

The mayor has been working with state officials to find remediation funds.

“In the early 90s one of the governors thought it was a good idea to stop contributing to this and New Jersey opted out,” Morris said.

State Senator Tony Bucco acknowledged that this is a serious issue.

“I have already engaged environmental and labor officials to identify adequate funding to provide to the community,” Bucco said.

For now, Kauf is left to deal with the issue on his own. He’s hoping that forecast rain over the weekend won’t cause more damage.

Sinkholes from old mines are an issue in neighboring Rockaway Township, Randolph, Chester Township, and Ringwood.


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