Lowell, Massacheucetts. October 12th, 2011.

A sinkhole estimated to be as big as 25 feet emerged Tuesday night following a water main break in front of a large apartment complex in Lowell.

Officials said an 8-inch water main line supporting a fire hydrant outside the Mass Mills Apartments at 150 Massmills .Dr. broke shortly after 8 p.m.

A hydrant and sign were submerged into the sinkhole, and one witness said he could feel the ground dropping beneath him as a walkway in front of the complex began to collapse.

“I was standing right here smoking a cigarette and I hear just like a loud water, rushing. And then all of a sudden the ground just started caving in,” said Bill Ralls. “I walked over to see what was happening and the hole just kept getting bigger and bigger and coming at me.”

Ralls went running but none of the more than 280 residents were ordered to evacuate. Residents rushed out to see what was happening. There was no water damage inside the building.

The first people to get to the hole were glad they didn’t get too close.

“The brick just kept falling and falling, and there was a maintenance guy 5 feet away and where he was standing 3 square feet just fell down, right in front of him,” said Jason Oyola.

The manager said he was going to bring a contractor in to start repairs. The first step in the repair process will be pumping out the water from the sink hole. Only then will the full extent of the damage be known.

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