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Sinkhole in Laguna Beach swallows SUV, ruptures underground gas line

Some Laguna Beach residents were forced from their homes this week after a broken water main opened a sinkhole and caused a gas leak, authorities said.

The Laguna Beach Fire Department and Police Department were dispatched to the area of ​​10th Avenue and Sunset Avenue around 7:30 a.m. Sunday in response to reports of a significant amount of water flowing between homes onto South Coast Highway.

Authorities found that a Range Rover parked on Sunset Avenue had fallen through a sinkhole and ruptured a gas pipe under the road.

Residents of several homes on Sunset Avenue and Virginia Way between 10th and 11th Avenues were evacuated as crews worked to plug the gas leak. Residents were able to return to their homes later Sunday morning, a police spokesman said.

No injuries were reported.

“We still have geologists in the area doing research,” said Sheena Johnson, a spokeswoman for the South Coast Water District. “There has been a lot of rain, a lot of saturation in that area on that hill. We are looking into what was the cause (of the water pipe break). That is not yet certain.”

A portion of Sunset Avenue near 10th Avenue has been closed after a sinkhole formed in Laguna Beach on Sunday.

(Don Leach / Times Community News)

Crews from Laguna Beach Public Works, the South Coast Water District and SoCalGas worked to clean up the neighborhood and restore utilities. According to Johnson, about 100,000 gallons of water were lost due to the break in the water main.

Johnson added that the Range Rover was recovered from the sinkhole at 11:30am on Sunday.

“By then, our staff and our operations were able to get in there and try to diagnose what was going on. We realized that we also needed geologists to come out and survey the area to see what was happening. … There were seven homes where we had to shut off the water, and so we restored their water at 2:30 p.m. (Sunday) with a temporary water supply,” Johnson said.

“Obviously because that pipe is no longer connected, they don’t have their typical water supply, so we had to come up with a solution to make sure all those homes had water and gas supplies,” she said.