LOS ANGELES (AP) — A broken water main near the UCLA campus Tuesday sent a geyser of water some 30 feet into the air, forced the rescue of people trapped in underground parking garages and covered some of the best-known parts of campus in water, including the school's famed basketball arena.
The 30-inch, 93-year-old pipe that broke under nearby Sunset Boulevard made a raging river of the street and sent millions of gallons of water across the school's athletic facilities, including the famed floor of Pauley Pavilion and the neighboring Wooden Center training facility, as well as a pair of parking structures that took the brunt of the damage.
The arena — where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Reggie Miller and Kevin Love starred and John Wooden coached for 10 years — recently underwent a $132 million renovation that was completed in October 2012. At least an inch of water covered the floor Tuesday night.
Firefighters, some using inflatable boats, have saved at least five people who were stranded in the underground parking structures.
People saw the water and started rushing down the stairwells to rescue their cars, and authorities had to keep them out as water rose up to the wheel wells of vehicles, many of which were stranded, city fire spokesman Brian Humphrey said.
Firefighters have been searching cars in the structures to make sure they haven't lost anybody who was inside, Humphrey said. No injuries have been reported.
Beth Schoenborn, 49, and her daughter Kelly Schoenborn, 17, of Portland, were on a campus tour that was brought to a halt when the water started flowing.
Their rental car was in one of the flooded parking structures. They got to it and started driving but couldn't exit because a dip blocked off by water.
"We moved it up to the highest point," said Beth Schoenborn as she stood outside the parking structure.
The water pipe, which carries 75,000 gallons per minute when it's functioning, broke at about 3:30 p.m. and was expected to flow for some four hours before it could be safely shut off, Department of Water and Power spokeswoman Michele Vargas said.
Fire and police officials swarmed the chaotic scene that featured helicopters hovering overhead and backpack-bearing students wading across campus in ankle-deep water that others played in, some with body boards.
Patrick Huggins and Matthew Bamberger, two 18-year-olds who live in nearby Westwood, said they were having a boring summer day until Huggins' mother told them about the water.
"It was about up to my thigh, and I thought this is a good day for a little dip," Huggins said.
The two shot video of themselves diving and splashing in the badly flooded practice putting green used by the golf team.
Paul Phootrakul of the UCL A Alumni Association, who was in business attire for an evening event, took off his dress shoes, dress socks and rolled up his slacks in an attempt to wade to his car. Firefighters stopped him, saying the parking structure was not steady because of the weight of all the water.
"I was trying to move my car without getting wet so I'm presentable for this event," he said. "I definitely know that the cars on the bottom floor, my best bet, are gone or totaled. I don't have much hope for my car."
Associated Press writers Bob Jablon, Beth Harris and Krysta Fauria also contributed to this story.
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