High Springs firefighters execute sinkhole rescue

The High Springs Fire Department (HSFD) responded to a sinkhole rescue on Sunday afternoon at 14548 NW 268th Street, marking its fifth sinkhole rescue in the last year.

A goat had evaded safety barriers and fallen into a 30-foot sinkhole. The owner heard the animal’s pleas and contacted HSFD for help.

After arriving, the HSFD formed a plan and lowered firefighter Adam Hudson into the hole.

“Scared and exhausted, our four-legged friend nearly fell into the outstretched arms of his rescuer,” said the HSFD press release.

The property owner keeps more than a dozen goats and had fenced off the sinkhole, but goats can be extremely resourceful and acrobatic when they want to be, department spokesman Kevin Mangan said in a phone interview. He added that sinkhole rescues can be tricky because of limited visibility and an unfamiliar environment.

“There’s so much unknown,” Mangan said.

Firefighter Hudson and the goat were hoisted back up the sinkhole without injury, and the HSFD crew left after 90 minutes at the scene.

High Springs firefighter Adam Hudson emerges from sinkhole with goat

Mangan said it was a fairly cut and dry case but still involved risk.

“This is one of those situations where you never know,” Mangan said. “You plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

The western side of Alachua County contains a lot of sinkholes, according to Mangan.

Just last month, a new sinkhole opened up in Newberry following Tropical Storm Elsa. Another one formed in Archer near the end of July.

Mangan said no one would have believed a year ago that HSFD would conduct five sinkhole rescues within the next 12 months.

“There’s really no rhyme or reason,” Mangan said about the increase, noting none of the sinkholes were newly formed.

He said the department will hyperfocus on sinkhole rescues during training given the increase.

The department recently bought new rope-rescue gear, and firefighters continue attending technical rescue classes, which the department said helped keep Sunday’s rescue to a relatively speedy 90 minutes.

Mangan warned property owners to be aware of the sinkholes on their property and set up barriers to prevent access, adding that Sunday’s sinkhole would soon feature more barricades to stop any more adventurous goats.

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