LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — An approximately 93-year-old water main broke in Westwood Tuesday, sending water flooding into streets and the UCLA campus, stranding people and vehicles and prompting the closure of Sunset Boulevard on Tuesday.
People were stranded by the rising water, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department, which was called to the incident shortly before 3:30 p.m.
Three people were rescued from parking structures, the department’s Brian Humphrey told KTLA.
A geyser of water was shooting several dozen feet into the air from a hole in a roadway near the Spieker Aquatic Center, video from Sky5 showed. A main had broken in the center of Sunset Boulevard, LAFD Capt. Jaime Moore said.
“It’s like I’m at Niagara Falls on Sunset,” said one area resident who spoke to KTLA.
Utility crews were shutting down multiple valves to avoid rupturing lines, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power stated on Twitter about 5:10 p.m. It would take some time to stop the flow, the DWP said.
While authorities were urging people to avoid the area and stay out of the water, the Fire Department was responding with four swift-water boats that could be deployed.
“We’re treating this the same as we would a flash flood,” Moore said from the scene. “Everybody is safe as long as they stay away from this water.”
Sunset Boulevard was closed from Marymount Place to Westwood Plaza, according to LAFD.
On Twitter, DWP said the broken pipe was 36 inches in diameter. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti tweetd that had been installed in 1921, correcting an earlier tweet that the pipe was from 1912.
The address given for the flooding was 10630 W. Sunset Blvd., next to the UCLA campus (map). Water was flowing over much of the campus, aerial video showed.
Moore urged people to stay away from the water because of slippery conditions, fast-running water, and debris.
Nonetheless, aerial video showed dozens of people walking through giant brown pools of water across the campus.
“People are standing in the water almost out of a sense of amusement,” Humphrey told KTLA. “It doesn’t take much more than an ankle depth of water to sweep somebody into harm’s way, so we’re hoping to get UCLA campus officials to move people here away … from this very dramatic cascade of water.”
Traffic was jammed in the area, the Los Angeles Police Department stated in an advisory.
The flooding came amid statewide calls to conserve water during a historic and extreme drought.
The state water board recently passed emergency regulations allowing local agencies to issue citations — with fines of up to $500 — for failing to comply with water use restrictions, including waste of water on hard surfaces.