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Crews work to free firetruck from Valley Village sinkhole

September 8, 2009 |  7:52 am

Sinkhole Officials were trying to figure out this morning how to shut off water that was continuing to flow from a sinkhole in the San Fernando Valley that swallowed a fire engine.

This water main break occurred this morning on Bellingham Avenue at Hartsook Street near Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Valley Village. The truck – with one captain and three firefighters on board – was responding to a call about flooding in the 1200 block of West Hartsook when it ended up in the sinkhole, said department spokesman Devin Gales.

All four of the truck's crew safely escaped from the firetruck. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power says a broken water main underneath the asphalt caused the sinkhole.

The street is closed and about 40 DWP customers in the area are without water. DWP crews were on scene and in the process of shutting off the water main. Meanwhile, a heavy rescue unit from the Fire Department arrived to pull the firetruck out of the sinkhole, Gales said.

A previous sinkhole developed Saturday night a few miles away on Coldwater Canyon Avenue, which is closed from Ventura Boulevard north to Moorpark Street. Commuters to the Westside are advised to avoid the area and, if forced to detour, stick to Beverly Glen Boulevard to the west and Laurel Canyon Boulevard to the east rather than wind their way through unfamiliar mountain streets.

DWP crews welded the 62-inch water main that flooded residences in Studio City and washed away cars in a powerful torrent that lasted hours. Water as deep as 3 feet pooled in some places and ripped a huge gash in the roadway. Road repair crews were expected to begin rebuilding the most severely damaged portion of Coldwater Canyon, just south of Ventura Boulevard, late Monday or today.

It was not clear how long it would take to fix the roadway, which collapsed in large chunks in places.

Traffic officers will be stationed today at four intersections to guide motorists around the closures from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m., officials said.

-- Raja Abdulrahim

Click on image to go to interactive map Use the Times' interactive Google map to see the location of the water main breaks and street closures in the area.

Photo: A Los Angeles city Fire Department truck is swallowed by a sinkhole in Valley Village. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times.