LOS ANGELES (AP) — A broken water main flooded the streets of a Los Angeles neighborhood Friday, forcing residents to flee their homes and submerging several vehicles.
The pipe ruptured before dawn, sending water gushing among homes in South Los Angeles, a few miles from downtown. Fire and utility crews were sent to the area, where water flowed for hours.
About 40 people were evacuated, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said. At one point, a woman fell into an unseen hole after stepping into the water during the evacuation.
Firefighters were on the front porch of a home getting residents out when several people approached from the side of the house and the woman fell. A firefighter instinctively reached for her and also slipped but held on to the porch rail and avoided falling in. Other people quickly pulled the woman from the water.
Two trucks and a car sunk into a hole created when water washed out dirt beneath the surface level of the street, removing support for the pavement, said Eric Shavely, general superintendent for the utility.
The water department said the pipe, 24 inches (61 centimeters) in diameter, broke around 5 a.m. and shutting it down had to be done carefully to avoid damaging nearby pipes. The utility tweeted around 9 a.m. that the water flow had finally stopped.
Seventy-five customers lacked water service because of the leak, and some streets had to be closed, the utility said. Service was expected to be restored early Saturday, and crews will repair the street over the weekend, Shavely said.
“There is still quite a bit of mud all over,” he said.
The cause of the problem was not immediately known. It could be the age of the pipe, which was installed nearly a century ago, or external corrosion, Shavely said.