About a dozen cars parked along Lausanne Avenue near Bonnie Street had mud caked up to the top of their wheels or higher, but no homes were flooded or damaged, officials said. The mess kept crews in heavy equipment busy all day scooping up mud and helping residents free their cars from it.

The 8-inch city-owned pipe tore open in a hillside above the flooded neighborhood around 4:20 a.m. It feeds water to and from a 970,000 gallon reservoir tank atop of the hill. City crews had the flow pinched off by roughly 4:50 a.m. and no customers were out of water, said Patrick Sweetland, director of the Daly City sewer and water department.

He said the age of the cast iron pipe was a "critical factor" in the leak, as the strength of the lines can be compromised with time. But what caused it to finally "shear off" Tuesday was unclear, Sweetland said.

In the less than one hour the pipe was spewing water, it gouged a trench in the hillside that was 40 foot deep in some places and over 200 foot long. The sandy soil was quickly carried downhill and was deposited mostly on a one-block section of Lausanne and a grassy part of a Hillside Park.

Michael Jennings, who lives on the mud-covered block of Lausanne, said he was awakened by police and was one of about 12 homeowners told to evacuate. The massive flow of water was confusing at first because it wasn't raining.


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"I was half asleep," he said. " I thought it was a joke."

But when he saw that mud had collected midway up his 2011 BMW's wheels, he knew it was real. He said he'd ask his insurance company to replace the vehicle, which was still stuck in the mud Tuesday afternoon.

City officials said it wasn't immediately clear if residents' or the city's insurance would pay for damage. Insurance experts said the city would likely be on the hook for damage to residents' property.

However, any car owners with comprehensive coverage could expect their insurance carrier to pay a claim, said Pete Moraga, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California. Car owners with lower coverage levels could ask the city to pay for damage stemming from the mud and flood.

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.