PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. -- The Pierce County man who fell down an abandoned well beneath his tool shed told rescuers he had no idea the well was there.

He was at that point just stunned, said Central Pierce Fire & Rescue firefighter Jim Girt.

Girt climbed down the 15-foot deep hole to help rescue the 68-year-old man. Neither man was injured.

Girt said in his 12 years as a firefighter, he had never been on an abandoned well call. The county s well inspector said the hazard is more common than most realize.

You walk in the backyard and you just won t see it, said Rich Dickerson with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

Dickerson said the well that collapsed was likely dug, by hand, in the early 1900 s when the home was built.

In those days, said Dickerson, homeowners did not have to document where or how wells were created.
That changed in 1972, when the state s Department of Ecology began creating a database of all well diggings and decommissions.

The Department of Ecology has a website regarding abandoned wells.

After Wednesday s incident, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department linked information on their webpage about Decommissioning of Abandoned Wells.

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