Don Tothe didn't think it was the Big One, but his Encino home was shaking enough for him to jump out of a chair and stand under a living-room door frame for safety.
When the shaking finally subsided, he went back to watching television. Then a neighbor called, and he found out the earthquake wasn't an earthquake.
"My neighbor said I had a lot of water out front," Tothe said. "I went to the front door and saw I had a river going by."
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said Wednesday that the impromptu torrent was from a 16-inch water main that had burst beneath Calneva Drive in front of Tothe's home.
The break, which sent a rumble through the home in the 16600 block about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, did not register on any Richter scale, but it did collapse part of the road in the hillside neighborhood and wash away about 100 feet of sidewalk, the edge of Tothe's driveway and some of the bushes he and neighbors had planted in front of their houses.
Tothe said he managed to move his car out of his cracked driveway before it was blocked. "I saw the sidewalk was sinking, and I took a chance and moved my car," he said. "If I hadn't done it then, I wouldn't have been able to get it out after."
DWP crews worked through the night and most of Wednesday to repair the 18-foot section of cast-iron pipe that was damaged, said Dorothy Jensen, DWP spokeswoman.
The break, which forced the crews to shut down a pumping station, disrupted water service to about 20 homes in the neighborhood near Mulholland Drive, she said. The flooding of thousands of gallons of water also knocked out power to one home on Calneva and backed up area sewers, she said.
Jensen said repair crews were unsure Wednesday what caused the break. Tothe said the same main broke in October, 1985, in front of a neighbor's house, causing similar damage.
Jensen could not confirm the 1985 break. She said she was unsure whether the city would take responsibility for repairing Tothe's driveway when it replaces the damaged road and sidewalk.
"I'm assuming we will," she said.
"I hope they will," Tothe said.