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September 22, 2014

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Repairing burst Los Angeles main could take days

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AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power crews work to repair the “Y” shaped juncture where a water rupture occurred near the University of California, Los Angeles, involving two main trunk lines on Sunset Boulevard, Thursday, July 31, 2014.

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A Los Angeles firefighter helps a driver whose car became stranded on Sunset Boulevard after a 30-inch water main broke and sent water flooding down Sunset and onto the UCLA campus in the Westwood section of Los Angeles Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

LOS ANGELES — Repair crews on Thursday were shoring up a giant hole in the middle of Sunset Boulevard caused by a ruptured pipe, as officials at the water-logged University of California, Los Angeles, continued to assess damage from the 20 million gallons that inundated the campus.

Workers were reinforcing the excavated 56-by-41-foot crater and making the site safe for crews, said Mike Miller, district superintendent for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Meanwhile, workers off-site were fashioning new valves and a Y-joint connector to replace the burst section of the century-old steel line.

The Department of Water and Power said work on the pipe itself was expected to be completed late Friday or early Saturday. Then work could begin on repairing the famed boulevard, a heavily traveled east-west thoroughfare, pushing reopening well into the weekend.

"There's still just a lot of work to do out here," Miller said. "We're still shooting to have this done, at least the repair to the main by Friday."

UCLA officials said six facilities were damaged in Tuesday's flooding.

About 960 vehicles were trapped in garages, with many below water left behind by the roiling flood. On Thursday night removal began of about 270 cars that were on upper levels and not damaged by water.

Rich Mylin, associate director of events and facilities, led a tour Wednesday of affected areas for Department of Water and Power workers in hard hats, and they snapped photos and took notes.

The flooding sent water cascading into the Pauley Pavilion, less than two years after a $136 million renovation.

UCLA Vice Chancellor Kelly Schmader said 8 to 10 inches of water covered the basketball court, and it showed signs of buckling. The floor will be repaired or replaced as necessary and will be ready by the start of the basketball season this fall, Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said.

On Wednesday evening, six men helping to pump water from the pavilion were treated for exposure to carbon monoxide from a generator's exhaust, city fire spokeswoman Katherine Main said. Two were taken to a hospital in fair condition, and four were treated at the scene.

Department of Water and Power spokesman Joe Ramallo said people who suffered damage from the flooding can file claims with the agency, which will work with UCLA on settling losses.

The 30-inch steel main was gushing 1,000 gallons a minute Wednesday before it was shut off completely in the evening.

At its peak, water was streaming out of the break at a rate of 75,000 gallons a minute. The amount of water spilled could serve more than 100,000 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers for a day.

The rupture occurred amid a drought as tough new state fines took effect for Californians who waste water by hosing down driveways or using a hose without a nozzle to wash their car.

Despite the break, no utility customers were without water. No injuries were reported.

Associated Press writers Brian Melley, Michael R. Blood, Raquel Maria Dillon, Bob Jablon, Beth Harris and Andrew Dalton contributed to this report.

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