Explosion Obliterates Street In South Los Angeles

An underground explosion on a busy street in south Los Angeles has city officials mystified.

Several streets were blocked off Wednesday night at Brynhurst Avenue and 63rd Street in the Hyde Park neighborhood.

The blast happened about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, sending 250-poind manholes and asphalt flying.

CBSLA interviewed witnesses Brian Jefferson and his brother Adrian, who live nearby.

“I just heard a real loud sound, kind of like a boom, like there was truck accident,” Brian Jefferson said.

No injuries were reported, but parked cars were damaged and windows were shattered

“I heard this big old explosion like consecutively four times in a row, and I was like ‘Whoa, what was that?’” Adrian Jefferson said.

The explosion tore entire sheets of concrete and asphalt seven inches deep from the ground, raining them onto nearby vehicles.

Officials from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power have no idea what set off the explosion, but investigators are theorizing that it was an underground electrical vault that exploded.

“Electrical vaults from time to time will overheat and explode just because they get so hot,” LAFD battalion chief Kris Larson said. “There’s energy running through them and there’s heat behind it. It’s just unusual that it happened on a day that’s not extremely hot.”

Things could have been much worse. There are children who play in the neighborhood frequently, so there could have been many injuries.

“I’m glad that nobody was hurt and everybody’s OK,” Adrian Jefferson said.  “I mean, it’s kind of like, I find it hard to believe … so many cars that go through.”

The liens that run under that street move 138,000 volts of electricity – enough to power 1,000 homes.

We got very lucky … it’s kind of a miracle,” Larson said.

Rita Rodgers was inside when it happened, speaking to ABC7.com.

“I heard a big explosion that sounded like a bomb. It shook my building,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

Jessica Hughes said she will never forget the sound.

“I heard stuff falling like the big rocks of concrete fall on the ground, so I was like OK something is worse than a car exploding. It was really loud, it gave me a headache,” she said.

On Tuesday, an underground explosion in a Detroit neighborhood was blamed on a failure of electrical equipment.

A suspected cable failure in an underground line prompted the blast, said city spokeswoman Randi Berris. The failure caused pressure to build up and forced a manhole cover into the air. There was no fire or smoke associated with the incident and no injuries were reported, she said.

“It is safe for cars, pedestrians and residents in that neighborhood,” Berris said. “We’re grateful there were no injuries.”

In Detroit, city crews have not yet been able to get underground and are expected to return to the site Wednesday to study the cause, Berris added.

Grosse Pointe Woods’ Public Safety Department alerted the public of the incident Tuesday afternoon and shut down a portion of the road near Mack and Bournemouth for several hours while crews investigated.