ORANGE — An underground pipe feeding into a 441-unit apartment complex burst Saturday afternoon, causing a geyser-like spray of water that left a 15-foot sinkhole in a driveway and nearly flooding a garage full of vehicles, authorities said.
It took 10 firefighters about 45 minutes to shut off the water after the pipe broke at 3:13 p.m., just in time to save 23 vehicles in the garage from serious damage, said Battalion Chief Doug Mochizuki.
The water had risen to about 18 inches in the underground garage, Mochizuki said.
Seema Mhascar, a resident of the City Terrace Apartments whose 1996 Honda Civic was in the garage, was one of the approximately two dozen residents who broke into applause after firefighters managed to shut the water off.
"It was just in time," said Mhascar, who ran down to the garage after being warned of the burst pipe by the apartment management.
Fire officials called the mishap a "spontaneous break" in the 20-year-old water line that feeds into the complex. The water spewed out onto the driveway and then cascaded into the underground garage, Mochizuki said.
"We don't have any idea why it broke," he said.
Times staff writer Len Hall contributed to this report.