Video: Water main break topples cars, floods businesses

updated 1/24/2011 11:06:50 AM ET 2011-01-24T16:06:50

A water main break iced over a major commuter highway in Washington's Maryland suburbs, snarling morning traffic Monday and swamping parked cars in one lot.

Authorities say the pipe ruptured in an office park that backs up to Capital Beltway in Prince George County and sent water down a small hill onto the road, where it froze. Officials closed all southbound lanes of Interstate 95 between Ritchie Marlboro Road and Route 214 by 5 a.m. and said it could be closed several hours.

At one point, water from the broken main shot eight or nine feet in the air, said Lyn Riggins, a spokeswoman for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. There was significant damage to the office park where the break occurred at East Hampton Rd. in Capitol Heights.

"It looks like somewhere where you would go white water rafting," Riggins said.

Image: Flooded area
Jacquelyn Martin  /  AP
Water floods an an industrial park next to the Capital Beltway in Capitol Heights, Md., on Monday.

Chunks of asphalt were strewn across the parking lot, and three cars that appeared to have been parked at the center when the break occurred were inundated with water. Store windows had been shattered.

Riggins said the 54-inch water main that ruptured was a major distribution main but it was unclear what caused the break around 4 a.m. Riggins said officials had shut off three valves by midmorning and were working on a fourth and final valve expected to shut off the water.

As a result of the break, thousands of customers in the area of Central Avenue were also experiencing low water pressure.

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