Residents on West Frontier Street were without water for about four hours Friday afternoon after an eight-inch filler pipe burst, resulting in almost 1,000 gallons of water running over an embankment onto Main Street.
As the water gushed out of the broken pipe near the Payson Fire Station, water department employees tried in vain to find the valve turnoff switch. They were finally able to shut the water off after 30 minutes.
Public Works Director Buzz Walker, who was not in town on Friday, said they were forced to turn off water for a six-block area on West Frontier Street.
"We put all of our resources in restoring the water service," Walker said.
He said the pipe that broke was an eight-inch fill line to the Summit Street Tank.
Larry McNeeley, an employee of the Payson Water Department, was on the scene Friday as water rushed into the street. He said they did not know why the pipe exploded.
"We are trying to shut it down right now," he said, as other workers tried to check under the flowing water for the turnoff valve.
Mark Keeney, a crew leader for the water department, was one of the workers looking for the right valve to turn off.
He said he expected water department employees to be at the site for most of Friday.
Walker said this is the first time he has seen a pipe break in this area during the past 35 years.
Arizona Public Service came out to advise the water department employees of nearby power lines.
Patrick Walker, son of Buzz Walker, said his guess was that the recent cold weather caused the pipe to compress and expand.
"These pipes can be 40 to 50 years old," Patrick Walker said, mentioning he has helped out on water issues for the town in the past.
The public works director said a few lots near the water pipe break were partially covered with a lot of dirt and water.
"We are in the process of cleaning up those lots to their original condition," he said.