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The Blob Attacks Los Angeles


dailynews.com

A mysterious black blob attacked downtown Los Angeles on Monday with a tar-like goo that oozed from manholes, buckled a street and unmoored a Raymond Chandler-era brick building, firefighters said.

About 200 residents were forced to flee as a hazardous materials team and dozens of firefighters worked throughout the day to identify what was first deemed "a black tarry substance" and later morphed into a "watery mud."

While outside temperatures struggled to break 60, sidewalks in the vicinity steamed at 103 degrees, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Ron Myers said.

"It's worrisome in the fact that it will keep the street closed and residents will be evacuated till the building is considered safe," Myers said.

Firefighters were alerted at 3 a.m. by complaints of a sewer-like smell at an apartment house at 1220 S. Olive St. near Pico Boulevard, but found nothing.

They returned at 1 p.m. to find a Slimer-like ooze lurking beneath central Los Angeles.

"We were called back because there was a gooey substance, a tarry-type substance, coming out the underground electrical vaults, out of manhole covers in the street, through the sidewalks and possibly in one older apartment building," Myers said.

A 120-foot stretch of Olive buckled 1 1/2 feet, he said. The pre-1933 unreinforced masonry apartment building shifted one foot from its foundation. Sidewalks were as hot as Jacuzzis.

And a pressurized liquid shot from every street orifice located above what used to be a historic oil field downtown.

No one was injured in what amounted to a black lagoon. Hazmat and Urban Search and Rescue crews determined that the mysterious substance wasn't flammable, Myers said.

"Incident commanders are evaluating some form of drilling operation one or two blocks away as the possible cause," he added.

"They told us to get out from the building, because, probably, I don't know, anything could happen. The basement was flooding," resident Mary Robles told KABC-TV, Channel 7.

By late afternoon, the American Red Cross had set up an evacuation center for the 150 adults and 50 children forced to flee the stuff of nightmares.

"We're opening a shelter," said Nick Samaniego, spokesman for the Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles. "We're looking for a place to put them."

© 2006 dailynews.com

posted: 2/21/2006

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