September 27, 2014 / 4:21 AM / 3 years ago

Water main break floods West Hollywood street, forces closure

(Reuters) - A large water pipe burst under the Los Angeles suburb of West Hollywood on Friday, flooding the famed Sunset Strip and forcing authorities to shut down the thoroughfare to vehicle traffic during the evening rush hour.

The 36-inch underground pipe burst around 2:15 p.m. local time (2125 GMT), spraying as much as 9,600 gallons of water a minute onto Sunset Boulevard at its peak, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power spokeswoman Kim Hughes said.

Water crews immediately diverted water from the pipe, which was installed in 1916 and reinforced roughly 40 years later with cement, Hughes said. Crews closed the pipe around 6:00 p.m.

No customers or businesses were without water despite the break and no one was injured, Hughes said. The street remains closed to vehicle traffic, but was open to the walking public, she added.

Footage broadcast by local KTLA-5 TV showed workers lining building entrances with sand bags as a stream of muddy water washed over the street and sidewalk.

A stretch of the boulevard a few miles to the west was re-opened just last month after another massive water pipe ruptured, spouting a 40-foot geyser and flooding parts of the University of California Los Angeles campus.

The West Hollywood break further underscores the aging condition of much of the city’s infrastructure. Officials have acknowledged that many of the pipes running beneath the city need to be replaced, but say it would take 300 years to do so.

It also comes as California suffers through a record drought that has prompted state and local authorities to impose strict water conservation measures, including fines for wasting even a few gallons on excessive lawn irrigation.

Crews would work through the night until the main was repaired, the department said. There were not yet any estimates of how many gallons were lost.

Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Dan Whitcomb

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