A 30-inch water main broke beneath Buchanan Street on the city's west side. In a matter of minutes, water in some spots more than two feet deep began flowing, stranding motorists in vehicles, including a police cruiser carrying two officers trying to reach someone who was stuck, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Public works crews were struggling to find and close three underground valves to stop the flow of water. It was unclear whether any residents in the area were without water as a result of the break, the Detroit News said.
The situation was a challenge for city workers dealing with low temperatures and lots of snow and ice in the area.
"It happens once the temperature drops outside and in the mains," said Water and Sewage Department Deputy Director Darryl Latimore, who was at the scene of the water main break Tuesday. "It's an older infrastructure with weak points that give way. It can be difficult to turn off the valves. We have to locate the manhole beneath the snow, remove the snow, remove the manhole and then go down to shut down the flow of water."