May 21, 2013 02:51 PM EDT

New Jersey Sinkhole Opens Indoors, Swallows New Yorker and Forklift [VIDEOS]

A 40-by-40 foot sinkhole appeared in the middle of an East Rutherford warehouse in northern New Jersey around 12:30pm Monday. The Bronx resident named Danny Rodriguez was saved by his forklift when he fell into a 6 to 10 feet deep sinkhole. The incident happened at 1 Maple Street near the Maple Street Bridge.

Although porous limestone degradation is the usual cause for sinkholes, according to the property manager, Bruce Jordan, the warehouse owned by AM Express Freight had an long-forgotten basement that was covered by reinforced concrete slab foundation. The reinforced foundation might have eventually given way and caused the dangerous incident.

The building was evacuated and the East Rutherford Building Department and Borough Engineer inspected the building for other unsafe building segments, determining that 4 units are not safe for occupation.

Covered with cooking oil and soy sauce contained in the warehouse, the forklift operator climbed out and was taken to a local hospital for back injuries. Rescuers noted that the forklift had shielded him from the effects of the fall.

In April, a giant Illinois sinkhole swallowed 3 cars in South Chicago. After investigation, Water Department Commissioner Thomas Powers concluded that, when the water main was broken, it softened the soil beneath the pavement and carried it into the sewage system, causing the collapse.

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