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Salt Lake water main break leads to road closure, geyser reached 65 feet, officials say

Published: Friday, Aug. 26 2011 5:21 p.m. MDT

Public utility crews respond to a water main break at 300 South and 500 East in Salt Lake City Friday, Aug. 26, 2011.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Those traveling in downtown Salt Lake may have caught a glimpse of a spectacular water main break Friday.

Water shot as high as 65 feet from a city pipeline at 500 East and 300 South around 1 p.m., Salt Lake City Fire spokesman Scott Freitag said.

"It was really pretty," he reported.

Though the water reached area power lines, electrical service in the area was not affected.

Jeff Niermeyer, director of Salt Lake City Public Utilities, said crews were digging to determine what caused the line to break. He said there are 13 such crews who deal with similar incidents all the time.

"The pipes out in that area are a little old so sometimes you get a little corrosion," he said. "This one was probably a little more spectacular because the hole was in the top of the pipe, so it shoots straight up in the air."

Water to about eight valves were shut off to ease pressure in the pipe, leaving four businesses without water for an estimated 4 hours.

"The break was right in the middle of an intersection," Niemeyer said. "It's easy to isolate that, but they had to go back to one valve … we're trying to get water back to those businesses in short order."  

In total, the city is responsible for 1,500 miles of water lines, Niemeyer said. "(That amount) almost gets you to California."

Freitag said firefighters closed the roads at that intersection, but said they left within 45 minutes and believed at least one way would have been open in either direction by 3:30 p.m.

Emiley Morgan, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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