Water main break swamps Loma Portal neighborhood
by SCOTT HOPKINS
Published - 08/14/18 - 01:26 PM | 1549 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Firefighters survey damages behind the home at 3442 Large Circle after a hillside water pipe ruptured, sending ice plant, water and mud through this and at least one other home. It took more than two hours to completely stop the water flow. / Photo by Scott Hopkins
Firefighters survey damages behind the home at 3442 Large Circle after a hillside water pipe ruptured, sending ice plant, water and mud through this and at least one other home. It took more than two hours to completely stop the water flow. / Photo by Scott Hopkins
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Large Circle in the Loma Portal area was covered in mud and rocks from curb to curb after a water pipe burst on a hillside behind homes on Oleander Street that sit above Large Circle. Two homes suffered severe damage while 10 homes were evacuated by police. / Photo by Scott Hopkins
Large Circle in the Loma Portal area was covered in mud and rocks from curb to curb after a water pipe burst on a hillside behind homes on Oleander Street that sit above Large Circle. Two homes suffered severe damage while 10 homes were evacuated by police. / Photo by Scott Hopkins
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A Loma Portal neighborhood's quiet afternoon was disrupted earlier this week when a hillside water main burst, causing what officials termed "severe damage" to at least two homes.

Bill McGuigan, owner of the residence at 3436 Large Circle, said he was inside his home just after 2 p.m. Monday when he heard what sounded like an explosion. He turned to see massive amounts of ice plant sliding down the hill behind his house and within moments, a torrent of mud began entering his home, filling all the rooms before deepening.

In addition to McGuigan's home, San Diego Police evacuated five more homes on Large Circle and four additional homes located above on Oleander Street that sit on the hillside rim. 

San Diego Fire-Rescue personnel attempted to shut off the water flow while City water crews and San Diego Gas and Electric workers rushed to the scene. While they were initially successful in reducing the water flow, more water continued to escape, leading repair crews to believe there may be a feeder pipe connected to the ruptured one.

It took more than two hours to fully stop the water, according to Battalion Chief Ed Kinnamon of San Diego Fire-Rescue. McGuigan's home, where he has lived for 24 years, had "a couple feet of mud inside" according to a Fire-Rescue tweet.

The homes on Large Circle sit below a large hill, and when the pipe burst it sent a blast of water directly against part of the hillside, carving out a large portion of the hill and creating a mixture of mud and medium sized rocks.

Residents watched as torrents of water, mud and rocks flowed down gutters and completely across some parts of their street.

Later, structural engineers arrived to evaluate damage to homes while soil engineers focused on the saturated hillside to assess its stability.

In the last three weeks, two other major water main breaks have occurred in the area, including an 18-inch main on Midway Drive between Barnett Avenue and Rosecrans Street on Aug. 6 and the second on Aug. 11 in the 3700 block of Midway Drive, which is about four blocks from Large Circle.

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