(SEFFNER, Fla.) — Crews began the process Sunday of demolishing a Florida home over a massive sinkhole, where one man was swallowed by the earth three days ago and is presumed to be dead.
Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrell said the demolition process would be slow and methodical.
“We don’t know, in fact, once we start touching the building itself whether it will collapse or if parts of it will hold up,” Merrell said at a news conference Sunday.
Crews removed the front portion of the house Sunday and retrieved as many items as possible for the family members, who watched from across the street with friends and neighbors.
The demolition will resume Monday, with crews clearing the debris to get a better view of the giant sinkhole opening, which has been obscured by the structure.
The sinkhole, which authorities estimated now measures 30 feet across and up to 100 feet deep, will become the final resting place for 37-year-old Jeff Bush, who was in his bedroom Thursday night when the earth opened up and trapped him underneath his home.
Authorities attempted to rescue Bush, however on Saturday, the search effort was called off after the site became too unstable.
“We feel we have done everything we can,” Merrell said. “At this point, it’s not possible to recover the body.”
Two homes next door to Bush’s residence were evacuated Saturday after authorities feared they had been compromised by the growing sinkhole.
With the assistance of rescuers, the homeowners were given 20 minutes to retrieve their valuables.
The Hillsborough County Fire Rescue has set up a relief fund for all families affected by the growing sink hole.
Hillsborough County lies in what is known as Florida’s “Sinkhole Alley.”
More than 500 sinkholes have been reported in the area since 1954, according to the state’s environmental agency.
“Well certainly you have at least dozens of sinkholes a year, but to have one occur right in the center of a home and certainly to injure and even kill somebody; I’ve never heard of that happening before,” said John Marquardt, a geotechnical engineer.
Meanwhile, Bush’s brother, Jeremy Bush, is still reeling from Thursday night.
Jeremy Bush had to be rescued by a first responder after jumping into the hole in an attempt to rescue his brother when the home’s concrete floor collapsed, but said he couldn’t find him.
“I’m so sorry that they couldn’t, can’t get him out of the hole and that’s the last place he’s going to be,” Bush said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Jeanne Sahadi, CNN
Brian Todd and Theodore Schleifer, CNN