A water main leak Monday morning flooded streets in the area of Chicago Avenue and Paradise Road in west Modesto.
City officials said an independent contractor boring a cable line along Chicago Avenue struck the 10-inch plastic water main about 10:30 a.m., causing about 5,000 to 6,000 gallons per minute to gush from the line.
The water flooded four nearby streets, soaking the yards of homes on Ellen Avenue and leaving several inches of water on Haron Lane.
Several hours after the leak was stopped, city workers inspecting the damage discovered that a sewer line adjacent to the water also main was broken, said Allen Lagarbo, the city's deputy public works director over water service.
The city notified about a dozen homes and businesses in the area that they could be without water for 24 to 36 hours. Before water is restored to the customers, the city needs to repair and disinfect the lines and test the water for contaminants.
"Right now, our main concern is to make sure the water is safe before it's restored to the customers," Lagarbo said.
The city provided bottled water to nine households that were cut off to service and advised those residents to shower and use the bathroom at the homes of friends or relatives. Businesses near the corner of Paradise and Chicago also were without water.
The contractor was doing cabling work for AT&T, officials said. The crew was boring horizontally under the street when it struck the water main and the sewer line, officials believe.
Alexandria DeLoach and Asyesha Karriem were outside the home where De- Loach lives on Chicago Avenue, when water started gushing from the hole. The flood came up the driveway and divided into two rivers around the front and back of the house.
"It was water everywhere," DeLoach said. "The men who were drilling were just standing there like -- what do we do?"
The water soaked the carpet just inside the front door and likely damaged appliances in a shed off the driveway, she said.
Emergency personnel diverted traffic, public works crews responded to the area with sandbags, and firefighters were looking for electrical hazards at homes where water was getting close to the front doors.
It took about 50 minutes for city crews to stop the leak. Workers had to shut off valves to stop the flow of water to the broken main, Lagarbo said. Officials said minor water damage was reported to one home.
After the water receded, city workers used hoses to suction the standing water into city vacuum trucks. Workers also cleaned mud and silt from streets and sidewalks. Chicago Avenue remained closed during the afternoon as repairs were made to the water main and the street.
Modesto could seek to recover damages from the contractor if evidence shows the presence of the city lines was marked on the street. "We need to determine who was at fault," Lagarbo said.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2321.