Water main break in downtown Wilmington a real gusher

Public works crews were analyzing the water main break and city police blocked off access to the gusher. (Cris Barrish/WHYY News)

Public works crews were analyzing the water main break and city police blocked off access to the gusher. (Cris Barrish/WHYY News)

Updated: 5:25 p.m.

A large water main break in downtown Wilmington that sent water gushing into the street has been capped, clearing the way to reopen the street Wednesday morning, city officials said. They say the area around 11th and Orange streets should be clear by 6 a.m.

Officials said a three-foot section of main ruptured and started leaking about 10 a.m. at the corner by the Hotel du Pont. The department of public works says it occurred along a 20-inch main that dates to 1875. It’s one of three major water mains at the intersection, mayoral spokesman John Rago said.

The repair will involve city crew digging into the street to plug the main and stop the flow of water,’’ Rago said.

He urged drivers and pedestrians to avoid the intersection. Orange Street is closed between 10th and 11th streets. Eleventh Street is closed from West to Orange streets.

Downtown employee David Kelley said he’s never seen a water break like Tuesday’s gusher near the Hotel du Pont. (Cris Barrish/WHYY News)

About 11 a.m., David Kelley, a technology officer for a law firm, said he had never seen anything like the flood at 11th and Orange.

“I was just walking back from court and saw this,’’ he said. “It’s quite a river coming out from it.”

Standing about 15 feet from the leak was Kelly Williams, Wilmington’s public works commissioner.

Williams told WHYY that “this road contains the three major water mains that distribute water to essentially half the city so they are all close together and on top of each other.”

Kelly Williams, Wilmington’s Public Works Commissioner, said at 11 a.m. the city was trying to figure out a way to stop the leak. (Cris Barrish/WHYY News)

While the current leak is significant, Williams said it pales in comparison to a “big gusher’’ that happened about two years ago on a nearby block. She said water from that break spouted three stories into the air.

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