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El Sereno residents may return to homes soaked by fire hydrant

July 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
An El Sereno neighborhood is still trying to dry out on Wednesday after a car sheared a fire hydrant causing a big, wet mess.

On Tuesday, the broken hydrant at North Edloft Avenue and East Twining Street sent water gushing for nearly two hours against several homes. Water shot up more than 100-feet in the air.

"It looked like a geyser," said resident Nicole Mata.

Much of the flow landed right on top of three homes, one of the homes remains red-tagged.

"We had a big waterfall coming through here yesterday," said Eliseo Villalovos, whose home is covered in water.

Villalovos spent his day talking with insurance adjustors and trying to pick up the pieces. He says the inside of his home was mostly spared, but not his backyard.

"You never saw so much water coming through the backyard and spilling through the rooftop," said Villalovos.

Next door, Villalovos says a roof in the backyard collapsed and the home was red tagged.

The fire department couldn't shut off the water without help from the Department of Water and Power.

"The valve was further down in the ground, and our tools couldn't reach it," said LAFD Battalion Chief Kevin Pearson.

In the meantime,12 people were evacuated from three different homes.

"We were watching TV and we heard the crash," said resident Juan Soto, who lives in one of the damaged homes. "We came outside, but we got all wet."

Authorities say the whole thing started when a suspect stole a Ford Taurus. They say that the suspect lost control of the car, hitting two parked vehicles and running straight into the fire hydrant.

Neighbors say the suspect tried to get away as the water flowed.

"He gets up and goes, 'don't call the cops, don't call the cops,'" said neighbor Anthony Lopez. "And the gentleman that lives right there gets up and says, 'no no no, you're not going nowhere.'"

The car theft suspect was hospitalized and released. He is now in custody facing felony charges.

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