Tons of water flooded the UCLA campus in Westwood after a gusher of a water main break sent thousands of gallons of H20 down the hill from Sunset Boulevard.
The break at 10630 Sunset Blvd. was reported at 3:24 p.m., according to Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Sunset was closed down and …
… people and vehicles were stranded by water that was more than knee-high, he said. A “trio of stranded motorists” were assisted by first responders, Humphrey said.
— KTLA (@KTLA) July 29 2014
— Jillian Beck (@Jillian_Beck) July 29 2014
— Tara Wallis (@tarawallis) July 29Images from television helicopters (see a livestream here) showed water streaming into the heart of the Westwood campus, which generally goes downhill from Sunset Boulevard.
Drake Stadium appeared to be flooding as well as UCLA's main quad, Bruin Plaza, near the Bruin statue.
UCLA said any information about possible evacuations would be posted on its website.
[Update at 4:53 p.m.]: LAFD Capt. Jaime Moore told KTLA News that a broken 30-inch main is causing the outburst. He said the department is treating the situation as a flash flood, complete with four swift-water rescue boats on-scene.
“We're treating this the same way we would a flash flood,” he said.
Authorities are asking people to stay away. He said some people, possibly students, have been playing in the water.
Parking lots 4 and 7 on campus have been affected, he said, and firefighters were ready to rescue anyone who might be trapped.
Sunset Boulevard was closed between Hilgard and Veteran avenues.
[Update at 5:15 p.m.]: UCLA says that sandbagging is taking place at some locations, including on the north side of Pauley Pavilion. The school says “some water has already gotten inside” the arena, which was renovated for about $136 million two years ago.
UCLA is telling non-emergency personnel to head south, away from Sunset Boulevard.
A student told ABC Eyewitness News that a “Bruin Alert” text was sent out to students to warn them to stay away from lot 7.
[Update at 5:28 p.m.]: Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted that it would take about an hour to shut down the circa-1921 main. It “will take an hour to prevent shock to system and further damage,” he stated.
[Update at 5:31 p.m.]: UCLA states:
Water has been seen inside the J.D. Morgan Center, which houses athletic staff and administration offices, the George Kneller Academic Center and UCLA's Athletic Hall of Fame, and water has also been spotted inside the John Wooden Center.
The school says that students can try to retrieve cars from lots 4 and 7 but must obey the directions of first-responders.
[Update at 5:45 p.m.]: Mayor Eric Garcetti issued this statement:
I am closely monitoring the situation and remain in constant contact with key city departments including the LADWP, LAFD and LAPD, along with UCLA to make sure we are leading a closely coordinated response.
The Mayor's Office and our City departments will continue to provide further updates.
[Update at 10:33 p.m.]: The mayor's office said Sunset Boulevard would remain closed tomorrow, so plan accordingly.
A Department of Water and Power official, responding to questions about why it took so long to shut off the water flow, told reporters that crews had to make it to the scene during “rush hour,” figure out which main it was (there's more than one in the area), and carefully shut off three valves leading to it so as not to cause more ruptures.
Crews didn't appear to get to the break until 5 p.m., more than an hour and a half after it started.
The mayor's office said the main “delivers water to the area at a high velocity from Upper Stone Canyon Reservoir.”
Officials said 8 to 10 million gallons of water poured from the main during the break. The pipe normally carries 75,000 gallons of water per minute, the said.
In a statement, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said …
… flooding had affected parking structures 4 and 7, Pauley Pavilion, the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, J.D. Morgan Center, Acosta Center and John Wooden Center, as well as the North Athletic Field, intramural field and Bruin Plaza. Emergency response vendors have already been contracted and the cleanup process has begun.