Oil Geyser Sickens Workers, Shutters Strip Club, Floods Streets

Workers at a health care facility were sickened after a crude oil pipeline break coated the area with a geyser of black goo

A massive cleanup may continue for a week after streets flooded, two people were hospitalized and a strip club was evacuated when an early-morning crude oil pipeline break sent a geyser of black goo spurting into the air Thursday.

Streets were closed in Atwater Village near Glendale northeast of downtown Los Angeles after approximately 10,000 gallons of crude oil -- enough to fill a backyard swimming pool -- spilled over a half-mile area. An above-ground 20-inch pipeline broke around 12:15 a.m. Thursday near 5175 W. San Fernando Rd.

Oil shot 15 to 20 feet upward and onto a nearby business, The Gentlemen’s Club, coating the windows. The Gentlemen's Club, which according to its website features "full nude exotic dancers," was evacuated, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Crews used absorbent diapers to sop up the oil, according to LAFD Chief Jaime Moore. Moore said that crews will then pressure wash everything using a soapy soluion to remove any remaining oil on the asphalt.

A complete cleanup could take three to seven days, police said.

Police praised fire crews for their quick response, building dikes to prevent oil from getting into the LA River.

"Kudos to LAFD for setting up that containment. We would be in big trouble had they not done that," LA Environmental Officer Gonzalo Barriga said.

Health officials said the asphalt in the area was as hot as 126 degrees. A health advisory was issued as rising temperatures and the oil spill combined to create extreme odors, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

"Cleanup of this spill is progressing, but individuals may experience discomfort from odors from the residual crude," said Jonathan E. Fielding, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. "Sensitive individuals, including children, seniors, and people with chronic disease such as heart or lung disease, should exercise caution, and limit their outdoor activities as long as odors persist."

The odors could result in mild, temporary health impacts, such as eye, nose and throat irritation, headache, dizziness, or upset stomach, Fielding said.

"We're talking about crude oil. Other than the nuisance odor that people are smelling, there are no longtime health effects the public around here should be worried about," Hazardous Materials Specialist Mario Benjamin said.

Two workers from a nearby industrial plant for Baxter, a healthcare company, were sickened by the fumes and transported to the hospital.

Aerial video showed pools of oil across several blocks and on top of the adult entertainment club.

"This oil comes from the Bakersfield area, this is a pumping transfer station and pumping transfer station then transfers the oil to a storage facility in Long Beach," Batallion Chief David Spence said.

LAFD reported that oil was knee-high in some areas.

The pipeline, which trasports oil from Bakersfield to Texas, was remotely shut off within 10 minutes of firefighters arriving, but oil continued to spew for an additional 45 minutes, according to the LAFD.

The spill happened in a predominantly industrial area. Four workers from Baxter were evaluated for general illness and respiratory concerns and two of them were taken to the hospital.

A total of five commercial businesses have been affected, according to LAFD. Oil did not go inside any of the businesses.

Several blocks near San Fernando Road and West Broadway were cordoned off as fire crews and officials worked to clear the area.

San Fernando Road between Brazil Street and Electronics Place is currently closed and businesses on Brazil Street are expected to be inaccessible while crews clean up the spill.

The LAFD had initially reported that it was a 50,000-gallon oil spill, but that number was reduced to 10,000 gallons a few hours later.

NBC4's Kate Larsen, Patrick Healy and Beverly White contributed to this report.

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