WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com) — Police officials evacuated students and faculty from UCLA after a water main broke and flooded parts of the campus and surrounding areas.
The call came in at 3:24 p.m. that the break was shooting water into the air and flooding streets.
The amount of water rushing out of the break was estimated to be at 36,000 of gallons per minute.
Sunset Boulevard was closed in both directions, from Veteran to Hilgard.
The break occurred next to Marymount High School, allowing water to penetrate UCLA’s campus.
CBS2/KCAL9’s Brittney Hopper arrived and was just west of UCLA’s library, where she reported firefighters were walking in water as deep as their shins.
“We’ve got a 30-inch main in the center of Sunset Boulevard that’s erupted,” Captain Moore with the LA City Fire Department said. “We’ve got thousands and thousands of gallons of water flowing downhill. The only two (parking structures) that have been affected are parking lot four and parking lot seven. We’re asking people to stay away from those parking lots.”
LA City Fire had personal watercraft and four inflatable boats on scene, as evacuations of the two structures were underway.
A number of people reportedly arrived on scene with bodysurfing boards to take advantage of the water. But firefighters warn that the water is extremely dangerous and must be avoided.
“There’s a lot of rocks, debris, there’s dirt, there’s glass inside,” Moore said. “For someone to try to boogie board in this, it’s just going to be an asphalt bath.”
Authorities report that two people were trapped inside their vehicles, which were stuck in the moving waters. They were reportedly rescued by firefighters.
Los Angeles City Fire department was on scene along with LAPD, and the Department of Water and Power has reportedly been called out to the scene.
In addition to significant amounts of water, bits of debris, including asphalt, are reportedly launching out of the break, which is located directly in the middle of the road.
The water is reported to be one-to-two feet high as it rushes down the road.
Additionally, the water began rushing into one of UCLA’s underground parking structures, as vehicles were seen rushing to exit the structure.
The lower level athletic field was another section of campus to see significant amounts of flooding.
Some of the flooding was reported at about 4:15 p.m. to be heading in the direction of some of the school’s dormitories.
Officials say the width of the sinkhole is the primary concern, as the fierce rush of water digs deeper into the soil, increasing the sinkhole’s size.
The stairwells of underground areas, including underground parking structures, were seen with water rushing down the steps.
More than 30 minutes after the initial reports of the break, the water continued to show no hints of slowing down, and DWP officials were still no where to be seen.
Shortly after 4:30, it was reported that UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, the newly renovated athletic arena in which the UCLA Bruins basketball team plays, began taking on water.
CBS2/KCAL9 Chief Meterologist Josh Rubenstein was able to contact engineers familiar with the piping under the streets near UCLA, who believe the pipe that burst may be a 30-inch, high-pressure water main.
Security personnel confirmed shortly after 4:40 p.m. that Pauley Pavilion’s lower levels were beginning to see heavy flooding, and that they were trying to use water pumps to minimize the damage.
Takumi noted around the same time that the hole caused by the break had grown in size.
The parking structures affected, according to UCLA, included structures four and seven, at 4:49 p.m. The concern is that the drains installed in the parking structures cannot take on the amounts of water that are rushing into the lower levels, and that the structures will continue to fill.
After the water surge is under control, LA City Fire says the next step will be to assess the extent of damage to UCLA and the surrounding areas.
CBS2/KCAL9’s Randy Paige was directly next to the water main break at an hour and a half past the initial break, and reported that water continued to shoot some 30 feet into the air. Firefighters were working to keep people away from the waters directly adjacent to the break, as the current was said to be running swiftly.
DWP reportedly said the water would be shut down within two hours, according to LA City Fire, which should result in a gradual decrease in water volume from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
KNX 1070 reported that trapped victims were being rescued from the lower levels of the parking structures at 5:25 p.m.
Mayor Eric Garcetti took to Twitter to report that the pipe that burst is reportedly from 1921.
“We have some water mains and channels that are as old as 200 years old, so we clearly need to catch up, and it will take us a number of years to do that,” LA City Councilman Paul Koretz said. “We have some very old infrastructure that we are gradually replacing.”
Bruce Gillman of the LA Dept. of Transportation reported that Westwood Blvd. is the preferred transportation route in the area. Gillman suggests motorists in the area proceed south along Beverly Glenn to avoid the Hilgard detour, and then head west on Wilshire Blvd.
“I was coming here to go to the gym after work, and I got down to the bottom of the hill, (which was) completely flooded,” a business student on campus told CBS2.
UCLA Medical Center stood ready to receive anyone medically evacuated from campus, however, it was reported that none of the evacuees, as of 5:30 p.m., were in need of medical attention.
“It’s actually pretty amazing that nothing else happened, and (the spout) is pretty dramatically down,” Councilman Koretz said at about 6 p.m. “I saw on TV before I headed over here, it looked like water was shooting up a hundred feet or so into the air.”
By 6 p.m., the water flow out of the break was reported to be at about 20 percent of where it had been an hour before.
By that time, water damage had already been reported at the JD Morgan Center, Kneller House, the Athletic Hall of Fame, and Wooden Center.