The sinkhole that opened up along Merrimon Avenue on June 19 worsened on Thursday, July 11, following an afternoon downpour. The monster hole has attracted a steady stream of visitors./ photo by Jason Sandford

The monster sinkhole in a parking lot along Merrimon Avenue worsened Thursday  following an afternoon downpour and continues to threaten the structural integrity of a vacant building there.

The heavy rainfall about 3 p.m. flooded the neighboring Fresh Market parking lot, damaging at least three cars in the parking lot. The rain also washed away, for the second time, fill material recently placed in the sinkhole at 1010 Merrimon Ave.

The sinkhole opened up around June 19.

The sinkhole has attracted a steady stream of visitors eager to check it out in person. It has also inspired a Facebook page and an Instagram account, @avlsinkholetours, dedicated to it.

In a June 27 press release, the city announced that it’s Development Services Department  posted the building at 1010 Merrimon Ave. as unsafe for occupancy and barred anyone from entering it. A city inspector determined that the depth of the sinkhole has the potential for undermining the integrity of the building, according to the release.  The sinkhole, which is on private property, started at about 12 feet wide, the release stated.

Some 200 tons of fill were dumped into the hole on June 30, but it didn’t last long. Rainfall on July 3 washed most of it downstream into a wetland of the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality issued a citation to the property owners on July 1, the newspaper reported.

The sinkhole as of the evening of Thursday, July 11./ photo by Jason Sandford

On July 5, rocks were dumped into the hole, which was again topped with fill. That lasted until Thursday.

That stretch of Merrimon Avenue is well known for sinkholes. Holes opened in 2006, 2007 and again in 2013, according to news reports. A culverted stream runs through that area, and failed culverts were blamed for the sinkholes.

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