Blowing Off a Bit of Steam

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC Bay Area
    Steam spews from a broken pipe in San Francisco Wednesday.

    An underground utility pipe ruptured in San Francisco Wednesday morning, disrupting traffic around City Hall and causing quite a scene.

    Crews responded to the intersection of Larkin and McAllister streets overnight after rainwater began to pool in an underground vault  directly over a steam pipe, which evaporated the water and caused steam to come up into the intersection, SFPUC spokesman Tyrone Jue said.

    A Steamy San Francisco Morning

    [BAY] A Steamy San Francisco Morning
    Steam spews into the morning air in San Francisco from a broken underground pipe. (Published Wednesday, Mar 3, 2010)

    A few months ago, an emergency water pipe for the San Francisco  Fire Department broke, damaging a storm drain at the intersection, Jue said. Since then, steam has often been seen coming up in the intersection because "anytime any water pools up or passes by that steam  pipe, it heats up and evaporates," he said.

    One southbound lane of Larkin Street will be closed between McAllister and Fulton streets until at least the end of Wednesday as crews work to patch the pipe. The SFPUC is working on a long-term fix to keep the steam from spewing out again.

    The underground pipe carries steam to heat buildings that use radiant heat.

    Although the huge plume of steam is an impressive sight, firefighters determined that it does not pose a danger to the public, Talmadge said, and that the Department of Public Works is responding to repair the rupture.

    Bay City News contributed to this report.