Water-main break floods Hollywood's Sunset Strip

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WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) — A water-main break Friday sent churning, muddy water flowing down West Hollywood's Sunset Strip, forcing authorities to close a section of the busy street to traffic as hotels and other businesses sought to keep their properties dry.

At its peak, the break spewed 9,600 gallons of water per minute, and it spread like runoff from a torrential downpour into surrounding streets.

No injuries were reported, and authorities were still trying to determine the extent of damage.

The break occurred in a 36-inch steel, riveted pipe that was constructed in 1916. The pipe was coated with cement in 1957 to prolong its life, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power spokesman Joe Ramallo said.

There were no reports of customers losing water service, Ramallo said.

It was the second time in recent months that Sunset Boulevard — a traffic artery in and around Los Angeles — has been closed by a flood created by a broken water main.

In July, the rupture of a nearly century-old water main ripped a 15-foot hole through the boulevard and turned a swath of the University of California, Los Angeles into a swamp. Hundreds of cars and campus buildings were damaged by that break.

On average, the Department of Water and Power's aging water system has three breaks a day in 7,200 miles of piping.

Friday's break, which created a steady spout of water along a sidewalk, occurred shortly after 2:30 p.m., sending firefighters into the streets to stem the flow of water with sandbags.

The Los Angeles Fire Department said the break forced the cancellation of performances at the House of Blues because bands couldn't get their equipment into the venue. A section of the Sunset Strip was expected to close until about midnight — a period which normally brings many people to the bars, restaurants and nightclubs on the famous boulevard.

Much of the piping that carries drinking water in the U.S. dates to the first half of the 20th century, with some installed before Theodore Roosevelt was in the White House.

In Los Angeles, a million feet of piping has been delivering water for at least 100 years. A series of pipe breaks in recent years prompted promises to expand repairs and replacements. In 2009, several dozen breaks — including one that sent up a gusher the size of Old Faithful — flooded city streets.

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