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By Jason Wells, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — A 10,000-gallon crude-oil spill in Los Angeles early Thursday was expected to take 24 hours to fully clean up, officials said.

Firefighters responding to the spill shortly after 1 a.m. the Atwater Village section of the city were able to hem in much of the oil by using loads of sand from a nearby cement company to build a dam-like berm, creating a sort of “lagoon” that tanker trucks were able to sip from using their vacuum lines.

Those trucks were able to provide more accurate readings, which firefighters used to downgrade the size of the spill after initially estimating its size at 50,000 gallons.

The burst pipe had sent a geyser 20 to 50 feet in the air, blasting the adjacent Gentlemen’s Club, which had to evacuate, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Jamie Moore said. Some 10 vehicles were also stuck in the club’s lot due to the oil, he added.

Two people at a nearby medical center who complained of nausea, possibly due to the oil, were transported to a local hospital, Moore said.

By the time crews were able to shut off the pipeline remotely, the spill had created pools of oil, some about 40 feet wide and knee-deep, in the largely industrial area, the Fire Department reported.

“It looked like a lake,” Moore said.

Most of the oil was vacuumed up by 6 a.m., but more work will be needed to fully clean the spill, he added.

He said cleanup crews would use diaper-like sponges to sop up what oil could not be vacuumed up by the tanker trucks. After that, he said, high-pressure hoses blasting a soap solution will be used to break up the remaining oil.

The entire process will take up to 24 hours, Moore said.

The Gentlemen’s Club will probably have to undergo extensive cleanup after oil spewed against its roof and a side wall, Moore said. Four other businesses near the ruptured line were affected by street closures, but did not suffer significant damage, officials said.

The pipeline transports oil from Bakersfield, Calif., to Texas. It was not immediately clear what caused the rupture.

©afp.com / Kevork Djansezian

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