Major Water Main Break Floods Downtown Denver

By Melissa Garcia

DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – A water main break in the Lower Highlands sent a flood through downtown Denver.

An underground pipeline near 29th Avenue and Zuni Street broke around noon Saturday, affecting dozens of area businesses and countless residents, drivers and pedestrians.

Firefighters rescued several people who became trapped in their cars while driving through the area.

The quickly rising water levels reached the windows on some cars.

Water gushed down 15th at Platte where a grocery store parking lot looked more like a lake.

The flood put a damper on shoppers like Lici Fagan of Eerie, who was trying to get to REI with her family.

“We’re trying to jump (across the rushing water) so we can get over there (across the street), but I don’t know if we’re going to make it,” Fagan said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The break caused some businesses to close.

“At first I saw a river running down the street and I was like, ‘That’s strange.’ I came down here and it’s a nice little lake,” said Cayden Nigh, who works downtown.

Nigh found his cars submerged in water at a parking lot below ground level.

“All I’m hoping for now is a clean car when I get it (back),” Nigh said, with a laugh. “Maybe I’ll take an afternoon swim,” he added.

Underwater rescue teams used poles to navigate the flooded streets.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Firefighters searched basement level apartments that were filled with 5-feet of water.

“We’ve got water running into the occupancies, into the buildings, setting off alarms,” said Bob Kmak, a commander with Denver Fire Department. “And of course, the challenge for us is to make sure that we search those buildings and that there’s nobody trapped inside.”

Kmak said the rushing waters created a potentially dangerous situation for area residents, drivers and pedestrians.

“The water can push manhole covers up, and you wouldn’t be able to see it until you walked and fell inside,” Kmak explained.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Hours after the pipeline break, Denver Water workers were still trying to get the line shut off.

No injuries were reported.

Officials said that 29th Avenue would remain closed between Zuni and Umatilla streets until Sunday afternoon while the pipe was being repaired.

The cause of the pipe break was under investigation.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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