Fire truck stuck in sinkhole

September 8, 2009 10:28:50 AM PDT
Four firefighters escaped injury Tuesday after their fire engine sunk into a large hole caused by a burst water main in the San Fernando Valley. The firefighters were responding to a call about flooding on a residential street in the Valley Village neighborhood when they saw excessive water on the road, Fire department Capt. Steve Ruda said.

Worried the ground was unstable, they were backing the 22-ton engine out when the road collapsed and the engine cab fell into the sinkhole, Ruda said.

A captain and engineer safely climbed out of the windows and two other firefighters jumped from the rear as water and mud began to fill the vehicle's interior, Ruda said.

Department of Water and Power spokeswoman Kim Hughes said a 6-inch cast iron pipe broke on the street. She said water in the area was turned off while tow trucks prepared to pull the engine out of the hole. Crews were also inspecting for possible damages to gas and sewer lines in the area.

Hughes didn't know whether the burst water main was related to another one that broke about two miles away over the weekend. The rupture in Studio City on Saturday swept cars down streets, forced people out of their homes and flooded a section of a major boulevard.

The broken main was part of the city's original water system, dating to 1914, and was slated for repair.

Hughes said the main should be in operation later in the day. However, street repairs forced the shutdown of a major road across the Hollywood Hills.

Ruda said water probably damaged the radio and computer system in the cab of the $500,000 fire engine. He said the truck was salvageable.

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