Broken water main floods UCLA; people rescued

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by Matt Hamilton and Krysta Fauria, Associated Press

azfamily.com

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 30 at 7:14 AM

UCLA wades through damages from pipe flooding

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The quiet summer campus of UCLA found itself suddenly steeped in water and chaos after a major water pipe burst and spewed some 8 million gallons, stranding people in parking garages and flooding the school's storied basketball court less than two years after a major renovation.

The 30-inch, nearly century old pipe burst Tuesday afternoon under nearby Sunset Boulevard, sending water 30 feet into the air, opening a 15-foot hole in the street and inundating part of the campus that soon was swarmed with police and firefighters.

"Unfortunately UCLA was the sink for this water source," UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said.

The break came amid a historic drought when residents are being threatened with $500 fines for overuse.

"We lost a lot of water, around 35,000 gallons a minute, which is not ideal in the worst drought in the city's history," City Councilman Paul Koretz said.

The flooding hit the part of campus that is home to its athletic facilities, with the greatest danger coming in a pair of parking structures that quickly began filling with water.

Firefighters, some using inflatable boats, saved at least five people who were stranded in the structures where more than 100 cars were stuck, city fire officials said. No injuries were reported.

Water cascaded to the entrance of Pauley Pavilion, considered one of college basketball's shrines since it was built in 1965, then poured on to the court named for legendary coach John Wooden and his wife Nell.

The arena - where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Reggie Miller and Kevin Love starred - underwent a $132 million renovation that was completed in October 2012. At least an inch of water covered the floor Tuesday night, and its locker rooms also were flooded.

"It's painful. It's painful," Block said. "We just refurbished Pauley just a few years ago. And it's a beautiful structure. It's of course, a symbolic structure for this entire campus."

Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said the floor would be cleared of water overnight and the damage assessed Wednesday.

The school may need to make contingency plans, but "luckily we're not in the middle of basketball season," Administrative Vice Chancellor Jack Powazek said.

The other two campus buildings damaged were the Wooden Center, which has training facilities for students, and the J.D. Morgan Center, which houses the school's sports trophies, hall of fame and athletics offices.

Many students took the flooding in stride, walking calmly across campus with their backpacks in ankle-deep water.

Paul Phootrakul of the UCLA Alumni Association, who was in business attire for an evening event, took off his dress shoes and dress socks, and rolled up his slacks in an attempt to wade to his car, which was on the bottom floor of one of the flooded structures. Firefighters stopped him, saying the structure was unsteady because of the weight of all the water.

"I don't have much hope for my car," Phootrakul said.

Some saw a chance for fun, pulling out body boards and attempting to ride down the flowing water.

Patrick Huggins and Matthew Bamberger, two 18-year-olds who live in nearby Westwood, said they were having a dull summer day until Huggins' mother told them about the water.

"It was about up to my thigh, and I thought, `This is a good day for a little dip,'" Huggins said.

The two shot video of themselves diving and splashing in the badly flooded practice putting green used by the golf team.

The 93-year-old high-pressure line of riveted steel pipe spewed a geyser of water for about 3 1/2 hours before it could safely be shut down without causing more damage, said Jim McDaniel of the Department of Water and Power.

Crews struggled to get to the area at rush hour, and they had to research which valves to shut off without affecting service, McDaniel said. Some water service was briefly interrupted but quickly restored.

There was no immediate word on the cause.

McDaniel said there was no "magic technology" to determine when a new line is needed, and the city is on a replacement cycle of over 300 years for main lines.

"Every city that has aging infrastructure has issues like this, and we're no exception."

Repairs to the pipe and to Sunset Boulevard were expected to last well into Wednesday, McDaniel said.

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Associated Press writers Bob Jablon, Beth Harris and Andrew Dalton contributed to this story.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A broken water main near the UCLA campus Tuesday sent a geyser of water some 30 feet into the air, forced the rescue of people trapped in underground parking garages and covered some of the best-known parts of campus in water, including the school's famed basketball arena.

The 30-inch, 93-year-old pipe that broke under nearby Sunset Boulevard made a raging river of the street and sent millions of gallons of water across the school's athletic facilities, including the famed floor of Pauley Pavilion, the neighboring Wooden Center and the Los Angeles Tennis Center, and a pair of parking structures that took the brunt of the damage.

The arena - where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Reggie Miller and Kevin Love starred and John Wooden coached for 10 years - recently underwent a $132 million renovation that was completed in October 2012.

Firefighters, some using inflatable boats, have saved at least five people who were stranded in the underground parking structures.

People saw the water and started rushing down the stairwells to rescue their cars, and authorities had to keep them out as water rose up to the wheel wells of vehicles, many of which were stranded, city fire spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

Firefighters have been searching cars in the structures to make sure they haven't lost anybody who was inside, Humphrey said. No injuries have been reported.

The water pipe broke at about 3:30 p.m. and was expected to flow for some four hours before it could be safely shut off, Department of Water and Power spokeswoman Michele Vargas said.

The scene was one of chaos with students playing in the water, helicopters hovering overhead and fire and police swarming the scene, said Paul Phootrakul of the UCLA Alumni Association.

TV news reported that some students had pulled out body boards to attempt to ride the flowing water.

Phootrakul, who was in business attire for an evening event, took off his dress shoes, dress socks and rolled up his slacks in an attempt to wade to his car. Firefighters stopped him, saying the parking structure was not steady because of the weight of all the water.

"I was trying to move my car without getting wet so I'm presentable for this event," he said. "I definitely know that the cars on the bottom floor, my best bet, are gone or totaled. I don't have much hope for my car."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Pipe flooding UCLA will take hours to shut off

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Officials say a broken water pipe that is flooding parts of the UCLA campus will take hours to turn off.

Los Angeles Water and Power spokeswoman Michele Vargas says the water main under Sunset Boulevard that has been spewing water for two hours would take another two hours to shut off.

Vargas says the pipe has to be turned off slowly to avoid more damage.

City officials say the pipe that was laid down in 1921 carries water from a reservoir in the San Fernando Valley.

The cause of the break hasn't been determined.

The pipe flooded parts of the nearby UCLA campus, especially a pair of parking structures where three stranded drivers had to be saved.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A broken water main near the UCLA campus spewed water some 30 feet in the air Tuesday, stranding cars and people in underground parking structures and covering parts of campus in ankle-deep water, including the athletic field and the outside of Pauley Pavilion, the school's famed basketball arena.

The geyser of water began shooting from the 30-inch water main on Sunset Boulevard next to campus at about 3:30 p.m. and was still flowing more than an hour later, opening a hole about 10 feet wide in the street.

Fire crews have helped at least three stranded drivers get out of parking garages, which were taking the brunt of the damage, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

People saw the water and started rushing down the stairwells to rescue their cars, and authorities had to keep them out as water rose up to the wheel wells of vehicles, many of which were stranded, Humphrey said.

Firefighters have been searching cars in the structures to make sure they haven't lost anybody who was inside, Humphrey said. No injuries have been reported.

No campus buildings have been flooded yet, but water is running up to the door of Pauley Pavilion, the arena that recently underwent a major renovation.

Students wearing shorts and backpacks could be seen wading across campus through ankle-deep water, and some had pulled out body boards near a stairwell where water was streaming.

"The Number 1 thing is to keep hundreds of students from wandering into the water where they could get swept off their feet," Humphrey said.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said in a statement that several crews are on the scene shutting down valves and being careful not to cause more breaks.

There's no word on what caused the break.

More than 100 firefighters were on the scene, including a swift-water rescue team that brought inflatable boats in case they are needed.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A broken water main near the UCLA campus spewed water some 30 feet in the air Tuesday, stranding cars and people in underground parking structures and covering parts of campus in ankle-deep water, including the athletic field and the outside of Pauley Pavilion, the school's famed basketball arena.

The geyser of water began shooting from the 30-inch water main on Sunset Boulevard next to campus at about 3:30 p.m. and was still flowing more than an hour later, opening a hole about 10 feet wide in the street.

Fire crews have helped at least three stranded drivers get out of parking garages, which were taking the brunt of the damage, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

People saw the water and started rushing down the stairwells to rescue their cars, and authorities had to keep them out as water rose up to the wheel wells of vehicles, many of which were stranded, Humphrey said.

Firefighters have been searching cars in the structures to make sure they haven't lost anybody who was inside, Humphrey said. No injuries have been reported.

No campus buildings have been flooded yet, but water is running up to the door of Pauley Pavilion, the arena that recently underwent a major renovation.

Students wearing shorts and backpacks could be seen wading across campus through ankle-deep water, and some had pulled out body boards near a stairwell where water was streaming.

"The Number 1 thing is to keep hundreds of students from wandering into the water where they could get swept off their feet," Humphrey said.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said in a statement that several crews are on the scene shutting down valves and being careful not to cause more breaks.

There's no word on what caused the break.

More than 100 firefighters were on the scene, including a swift-water rescue team that brought inflatable boats in case they are needed.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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