CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — When a water main broke in downtown Corvallis, office workers saw the pavement heave and thought they were in an earthquake.
Water began bubbling up Tuesday between the asphalt and the sidewalk at the Barker-Uerlings Insurance office.
"Then the ground literally lifted up," employee Trevor Griesmeyer told the Gazette-Times (http://bit.ly/QEPJIQ). "It had to swing up a foot or something and drop back down, and instantly the water was just pouring."
The city estimated Wednesday that 800,000 gallons of water eventually poured out of the 20-inch iron pipe.
Nineteen properties are expected to be without water until about Thursday night, the city said in a statement. It's supplying bottled water and portable toilets in the four-block stretch most affected.
The water lapped over sidewalks downtown, coming near the door of the insurance office. Water pressure throughout the city of 55,000 people was reduced for a few hours.
After the flow was stanched, crews started pumping water from basements.
Damage to underground water pipes is more common during times of freezing and thawing, said city utility division Manager Brian Rigwood said.
There's no telling what damaged the pipe until the ground is opened up, he said, and even then, the city might not find the source of the problem.
The city said its records showed the pipeline was 63 years old, and typically a water main is expected to have an 80- to 100-year life.
Information from: Gazette-Times, http://www.gtconnect.com