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Broken water main floods UCLA; 5 people rescued



By MATT HAMILTON

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 eight 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 under nearby Sunset Boulevard on Tuesday afternoon, sending water 30 feet into the air, opening a 15-foot hole in the street and inundating part of the campus that was soon 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 now being threatened with $500 fines for overuse.

Flood Threatens Pauley Pavilion Court
"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 were also 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 that was on the bottom floor of one of the flooded structures. Firefighters stopped him, saying the structure was not steady 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 be safely 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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Join the discussion

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abrath8793 July 30 2014 at 2:53 AM

Seriously ??? 3 1/2 hours to shut off a MAIN !! With the drought situation in Calif. THIS SHOULD have been dealt with immediately!! WOW

Flag Reply +14 rate up
4 replies
Steve July 30 2014 at 2:28 AM

Well, on the bright side, they can now shorten the name of their mascot from bruins to ruins.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
2 replies
dpgzee Steve July 30 2014 at 5:12 AM

Very creative, you are only the 34,787,684th person to tell this joke. Be proud.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
coopdabomb dpgzee July 30 2014 at 9:57 AM

Stop whining

Flag +1 rate up
rothhammer1 Steve July 30 2014 at 5:13 AM

Water polo in the gym?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
tom July 30 2014 at 12:42 AM

SO does LA get fined for wasting water?

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
sassyphras2002 tom July 30 2014 at 4:19 AM

No, they get a Gang Green medal for "replenishing Mother Earth"

Flag Reply 0 rate up
jigokurei July 30 2014 at 12:48 AM

This is nothing new; each and every time Los Angeles enacts country-wide water rationing or restrictive water use, old water mains with undetected hairline cracks burst due to the back pressure of restricted flow. So when Los Angeles is on a crackdown on water use, a main burst and wastes 100 of thousands if not millions of gallons of water that would have been used for irrigation and domestic use...but now only feeds sewage drains where only a small percentage of it may be reclaimed, the majority will flow out into the ocean.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
2 replies
jigokurei jigokurei July 30 2014 at 12:49 AM

sorry, meant to say, "county wide," not country.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
raptureus210 jigokurei July 30 2014 at 7:07 AM

Yeah... didn't they get sued!....lol

Flag 0 rate up
hynotman jigokurei July 30 2014 at 7:05 PM

We may be losing dollars but we're saving pennies!!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
petey July 30 2014 at 1:47 AM

Thank you GOP for reducing the money for infrastructure repairs to the bare minimum to support tax cuts for Mitt Romney.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
12 replies
Mike July 30 2014 at 5:21 AM

I guess they're not so smart at UCLA.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
ganderrrr Mike July 30 2014 at 8:00 AM

The pipe is the responsibility of the LA Dept. of ater and Power, not UCLA.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
Scott ganderrrr July 30 2014 at 10:07 AM

Before you throw $132M in remodeling Pauley Pavilion, the smart thing to do would partner with the city, starting by checking the infrastructure. Luckily this wasn't a gas main.

Flag 0 rate up
dhsdome July 30 2014 at 8:05 AM

Democrats prefer investing in Obamaphones, free condoms and abortions rather than fixing the U.S. infrastructure.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
mesager42 dhsdome July 30 2014 at 10:56 AM

Some people need a history class. Government subsidized phone service started with The Telecommunications Act of 1934, and the FCC was created to help provide "universal service." It was further codified when USAC was created via The 1996 Telecommunciations Act. Obama Administration has been implementing what Reagan and Kennedy both kept going. Stop getting your info from Fox News. If you have noticed, most Republican presidential administrations haven't promised to end abortions, because most men who even think about cheating on their wives, like the idea of having abortions available so they won't get stuck with out-of-wedlock cheating child support. Get a clue about what society wants vs what society says it wants. Not everything you see on TV is real.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
mgt0331 July 30 2014 at 5:16 AM

It's really Global Warming! Al Gore said the icebergs in California would melt! See, he was right!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
alfredschrader July 30 2014 at 5:47 AM

Note: If this happens in your town, don't play in it.
The water could breach electrical junction boxes and become electrified.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
Carol alfredschrader July 30 2014 at 9:48 AM

Not to mention contracting Ebola.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Rachel July 30 2014 at 1:35 AM

Escape from LA.. Snake should be surfing down Sunset!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
Steve Rachel July 30 2014 at 2:29 AM

Shark week is coming!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
no1chef99david Steve July 30 2014 at 6:37 AM

we're both showing our age - that is the exact same thing I thought of LOL have a great humpday

Flag +1 rate up
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