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UCLA Cleans Up After 10 Million Gallons of Water Floods Campus

Image: Water shoots in the air from a broken 30-inch water main under Sunset Boulevard, uphill from UCLA

Water shoots in the air from a broken 30-inch water main under Sunset Boulevard, uphill from UCLA in the Westwood section of Los Angeles, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Mike Meadows / AP

The water main that ruptured in spectacular fashion beneath Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard, sending a geyser 30 feet into the air, also flooded UCLA’s storied basketball courts, where greats like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton once played.

University officials were due to begin assessing the damage Wednesday, but images on social media showed workers with squeegees and mops trying to clean up the mess at Pauley Pavilion, which dates to 1962 and reopened two years ago following a $136 million makeover.

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“Pauley Pavilion has taken quite a bit of water,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block told reporters Tuesday night. “It’s painful. It’s a beautiful structure. We’re of course concerned. We’ve got to let it dry out and see where we are.”

The campus will be open Wednesday, a university spokesman said, adding that the area affected by the water main break didn't typically feature classes.

An estimated 8 million to 10 million gallons of water spewed from the burst 93-year-old, 30-inch steel riveted pipe between 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET) when water was shut off, officials said.

"We lost a lot of water, around 35,000 gallons a minute, which is not ideal in the worst drought in the city's history," City Councilman Paul Koretz told The Associated Press.

PHOTOS: Geyser Floods UCLA Campus

Valves on the high-pressure line, which is fed from Stone Canyon Reservoir in the Santa Monica Mountains, had to be shut off slowly to avoid blowouts down the line, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Senior Assistant General Manager Jim McDaniel said.

Sunset Boulevard wasn’t expected to be reopened to traffic until Wednesday afternoon.

“We will be looking at all of our infrastructure in light of this incident,” McDaniel said.

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Standing water was also observed at the J.D. Morgan Center, which has three basketball courts and other sports amenities, and sent water and mud flowing onto Bruin Plaza, on which the Bruin Bear Statue sits, university spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said.

Two parking garages also flooded, with as many as 100 submerged cars inside, and that could pose a transportation problem as the campus recovers.

Fire Battalion Chief David Frelinger said the worst flooding occurred at parking structure four, which was flooded with “multiple feet of water,” but that there were several inches inside Pauley Pavilion, but added workers “are doing a good job in there.”

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A cause of the rupture of the water main break was not available Tuesday. Five people were rescued by firefighters in a parking garage after they were trapped by the sudden rush of water, but fire officials said there were no injuries.

UCLA Students Deal With Flooded Campus

Koretz, who represents the area where the water main break occurred, compared Tuesday’s blowout to the 2009 Coldwater Canyon water main break in the San Fernando Valley, which also involved a more than 90-year-old water main that was scheduled to be replaced when it ruptured.

“Maybe this gives us a fresh look at our pace of replacing infrastructure,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.