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Underground explosion that left Hyde Park street in pieces ‘felt like a mini-earthquake’

Utility crews are investigating an underground explosion that ripped through a residential street in Hyde Park and left the roadway littered with chunks of concrete, asphalt and rock.

Residents were advised Thursday evening to stay inside their homes after authorities discovered “above normal” levels of gas along South Brynhurst Avenue between 64th Street and Hyde Park Boulevard. Tests on adjacent streets showed normal gas levels.

It was not clear late Thursday what type of gas was leaking, officials said, since the meters cannot differentiate between methane and natural gas, which is mostly methane. Officials earlier had called it a natural gas leak.

The Gas Co. was collecting samples to take to a lab to determine the chemical makeup of the gas or gasses, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

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Fire officials, along with utility crews and police, were working to resolve the issue, Fire Department spokesman Brian Rankin said. Brynhurst Avenue was closed to traffic from 63rd Street to Hyde Park Boulevard.

“I’m told it’s not dangerous, it’s to keep people out of the way right now,” Rankin said of the traffic closure.

The blast was reported in the 6200 block of Brynhurst about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and sparked confusion among neighbors who weren’t quite sure what had happened.

“The floor shook. It felt like a mini-earthquake,” resident Heidi Jimenez told KTLA-TV News. “It smelled really bad, like petroleum.”

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Video of the aftermath recorded by a resident showed smoke or steam rising from a hole in the ground with chunks of concrete and asphalt strewn over the street. Cars parked near the blast site appeared dented from debris.

Neighbor Sheri Timmons said there was a loud boom and then an odd smell.

“They didn’t know if it was a gas explosion. We’ve never had anything like that,” Timmons told KTLA.

The blast lifted 100-pound manhole covers into the air and broke up the street into chunks the size of furniture. One SUV parked on the street had its windows smashed. There were no reported injuries.

The Los Angeles Fire Department said the explosion appeared to be electrical and requested the L.A. Department of Water and Power and Southern California Gas Co. investigate.

On Thursday, DWP said it found no evidence the explosion was linked to its electrical equipment but that it would continue to investigate.

Times staff writer Alene Tchekmedyian contributed to this report.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

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For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.


UPDATES:

10:45 p.m.: This article was updated to reflect that officials are investigating what type of gas is leaking.

6:35 p.m.: This article was updated with information about a natural gas leak.

1:15 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from the Department of Water and Power.

This article was originally published at 8:45 a.m.


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