By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) – A massive water main break on Beacon Hill flooded part of the neighborhood and left a sinkhole on one street early Tuesday morning. At least three apartments were flooded.

Tom Bagley, a Boston Water and Sewer Commission spokesman, initially said a contractor working for them, D’Allessandro Corp., was replacing a water main at Myrtle and Hancock streets when he broke a gate valve at 12:30 a.m. That is now under investigation and it is unclear who is responsible.

“A gate to that water main broke,” Bagley said. “It caused a lot of damage on the roadway, in the bricks, on the street.”

Water started pouring down Hancock Street onto Cambridge Street.

“It was cascading down the street really, really fast and it looked like Niagara Falls,” Bagley said.

“Companies arrived, found a lot of water traveling down Hancock Street and Joy (Street), they went unit-to-unit, checked to make sure that the occupants were safe,” Deputy Fire Chief James Greene told reporters.

“We sheltered in place for the most part, moved people to high ground, we really didn’t have to move people out of their buildings. But certainly, there’s some inconvenience and people that have some cleanup to do.”

Water rushes down Hancock Street early Tuesday morning. (WBZ-TV)

The water was shut off and catch basins caught all of the water, but it left a large sinkhole on Hancock Street.

“These things happen. When you work in a close proximity to pipes that have a lot of pounds per square inch pressure in them and all you need is a little slip of a nut or something like that, that’s what could happen,” Bagley said.

Water rushes down Hancock Street early Tuesday morning. (WBZ-TV)

Eversource and National Grid are checking to make sure there’s no electrical hazards.

Water rushes down Hancock Street early Tuesday morning. (WBZ-TV)

Building inspectors took a closer look at homes in the neighborhood during the day Tuesday.

“We apologize to the residents in the area, this is unfortunate,” Bagley said. “We’ll get this cleaned up as soon as possible.”

Jon D’Allessandro, President of D’Allessandro Corporation, released a statement on Tuesday. He cited the incident as an error on the part of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission for not shutting down the water main, while adding that he was thankful no one was hurt:

We are thankful that no one was injured in this unfortunate incident.  For the past two months our crews have been working on replacing old drains, water and sewer pipes at the intersection of Myrtle, Derne and Hancock Streets.  

Our contract with the City of Boston specifies that any water main over 12 inches in diameter must be shut down by The Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC). Our work was on a 12″ water main adjacent to the 30” water main. 

In an email to BWSC dated June 11th, we requested that the 30” water main be shut down and remain closed for the duration of our work out of concern for the safety of local residents and our crews. Three days before we began our work in this area, we again notified BWSC and sent notifications to the Boston Fire Department and residents. We followed all contractual and safety procedures and an inspector from Boston Water and Sewer was onsite monitoring the project when the 30” water main’s valve gave way early this morning.

Residents told WBZ-TV it was hard to act fast enough, as many faced an uphill battle with water rushing down like rapids.

“My husband tried to stop the water from coming in our doorway, because we live on the first level, and we couldn’t stop it. It was just gushing,” said one Beacon Hill resident.

Ashley Ott, another Beacon Hill resident, said her storage items were affected by the water.

“A lot of the storage material, and then a lot of the stuff that was knocked to the floor, is completely soaked,” said Ott.

Residents are being told to call Boston Water and Sewer directly to file a claim if they are experiencing any issues due to the water main break.

CBSBoston.com Staff