A water main break near UCLA's campus flooded parts of the school and put a massive hole in Sunset Boulevard Tuesday afternoon. The Los Angeles Fire Department was called to the scene shortly before 3:30 pm, finding a 30-foot geyser of water rising from the 93-year-old water main.
KTLA reports that three people were rescued from parking structures on the UCLA campus after they were stranded by the rushing water. Parking structures 4 and 7 were closed and the school advised that people should not try and retrieve their cars.
Water was spotted inside multiple buildings on campus and photos posted to Twitter showed several inches of water covering the famed basketball court inside Pauley Pavilion.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power took to Twitter around 5:10 pm to say utility crews were shutting down several valves to avoid rupturing lines. Meanwhile, authorities urged people to avoid the area and stay away from the rushing water while they worked to contain the water main break.
Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey told the Associated Press, "The Number 1 thing is to keep hundreds of students from wandering into the water where they could get swept off their feet."
Still, students wearing shorts and backpacks were spotted wading across UCLA's campus in water up to their ankles. Others were seen with body boards near a stairwell where water was flooding.
LAFD Capt. Jaime Moore told KTLA that the Fire Department was on scene with swift-water boats that could be deployed in case rescue was needed. He added, "We're treating this the same as we would a flash flood. Everybody is safe as long as they stay away from this water.
Humphrey commented of the people spotted in the water, "People are standing in the water almost out of a sense of amusement. It doesn't take much more than ankle depth of water to sweep somebody into harm's way, so we're hoping to get UCLA campus officials to move people hear away... from this very dramatic cascade of water."
The broken water main near UCLA will likely put a crimp on a state already trying to conserve water amid a historic drought. The state water board recently passed emergency regulations that allow local agencies to issue citations for failing to comply with water use restrictions. The citations come with fines up to $500.
More than 100 firefighters responded to the scene of the water main break, which was gushing water at 35,000 gallons per minute.
[Image via ARLNow]