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Water main rupture blocks downtown San Francisco intersection

Clouds of steam rise from manholes in a stretch of a downtown city street.
San Francisco fire department officials shared an image of steam billowing from beneath Grant Avenue in Downtown San Francisco on Sunday afternoon. | Source: Courtesy San Francisco Fire Department

Firefighters were working Sunday afternoon to block off a Downtown intersection after an apparent water main break sent steam billowing clouds up from manholes and vents, disrupting traffic.

Firefighters arrived at the intersection of Grant Avenue and Geary Street just after 10:45 a.m. after people reported that steam was rushing in gouts from several vents and manholes, disrupting visibility, said San Francisco Fire Department Lt. Mariano Elias.

The fire department initially said the steam was the result of an underground pipe that had ruptured, but no details were immediately available on the cause. A spokesperson for Cordia—whose two Downtown plants pipe steam to about 180 customers for space heating, hot water, air conditioning and more—told The Standard Sunday evening that a water main break had led to the issue.

Police, parking officers and PG&E crews were on scene, with public works crews en route, Elias said. Grant between Geary and Post remained closed into Sunday evening.

Pedestrians and drivers were advised to avoid the area, which is part of the city’s Union Square shopping district. There were no reports of injuries.

This is a developing story.

George Kelly can be reached at

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