An 18-inch cast-iron water main broke early Wednesday morning in the lower Hollywood Hills, flooding streets, submerging vehicles and prompting hours of repair work.
The pipe broke in the 6400 block of Dix Street near Cahuenga Boulevard (map), a few hundred feet from the 101 Freeway. About 100 customers were without water service.
Crews that were called to the scene about 2:45 a.m. to try to shut down the flow were not immediately able to do so because of a “sequence of valves,” according to officials with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
The pipe that broke was installed in 1926, and had not sprung a leak in a decade, according to Joe Castruita, director of water distribution for DWP. On an A-to-F grade scale for the quality of water pipes, the one that leaked had a C, he said.
It was not immediately clear what caused the break, and investigators won't know until they can examine the possibly ruptured portion of the pipe, which will be replaced, Castruita said. Soil corrosion, the pipe's age and pressure in the hillside neighborhood could be factors.
Video from the scene soon after the main broke showed water flowing down the street, reaching several inches high on the tires of vehicles parked nearby. By 7 a.m., vehicles were submerged, some up to their roofs.
The lower level of one multifamily property was inundated.
"A lot of valuables are gone. It's kind of devastating," said property manager Victor Simpson. "There's nothing we can do."
It was difficult for workers to assess the underground damage given the amount of water flowing, a DWP official on scene said.
A resident said she was “panicked” seeing her car submerged. Another said he was shocked when he came outside and saw the damage.
“At about 4 a.m., I heard a lot of noise out here, and I came out and I’m like, ‘What is going on?’ I see caution tape up and the water is just pouring down the street,” said resident Bert Champagne.
By 9 a.m., the flow had slowed but the street had buckled, with a crack running down the middle of the pavement.
Repairs began at 10 a.m. and workers aimed to complete the job by evening, DWP stated on Twitter. Street work was set to follow the water main repairs.
Water service was expected to be restored by 6 p.m., with the roadway reopening by Thursday morning, the utility stated. Parts of Franklin Avenue and Holly Drive were affected, along with Dix Street.