SAN DIEGO – A driver crashed into a fire hydrant Wednesday in a parking lot at the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park, causing water to gush into the air for nearly an hour and flooding the basement of the museum.
The crash happened at about 10:40 a.m. near the museum at 2001 Pan American Plaza. Firefighters were in the area training when they heard the vehicle crash into the hydrant, shearing off the top of it in the process, San Diego Fire Department Capt. Tuan Dinh told OnScene.TV.
Crews were able to mitigate some of the flooding, but were unable to shut off the water from the hydrant for about 50 minutes, Dinh said.
Jim Kidrick, president and CEO of the museum, who was at the scene Wednesday, said water flooded the museum’s restoration room in its basement. The area contains a number of historic planes and other items of significance, he said.
“It’s not good,” Kidrick said. “It’s going to be hard to tell, but it’s quite deep in there right now.”
The museum’s top priority now is to get the water removed and keep mold from forming, said David Neville, the museum’s director marketing and communications.
The extent of the damage is not yet known, he said.
But Neville noted the museum has experience with flooding in its basement from heavy rain. Officials previously had moved some basement items off the ground — but that still won’t keep water from flooding its climate-controlled rooms storing archives and artifacts, he said.
Neville said the museum in the past has asked the city to construct a small dam near its driveway to prevent flooding, which hasn’t yet happened.