Preble Street and several side streets were closed Thursday night after a water main break that flooded several roads and created a large sinkhole, according to Portland police.

Preble Street, from Marginal Way to Lancaster Street, would remain closed until 8 p.m. Friday, according to a Twitter message posted Friday morning by the Portland Water District.

Late Thursday, the Portland Water District issued a boil-water order for Munjoy Hill and the area northeast of Sheridan Street.

Crews work continue to work Friday morning to fix a water main break on Preble Street in Portland. Staff photo by Michele McDonald

As a precaution, consumers are directed to boil water for one minute before using it for drinking, washing food or brushing teeth. The order will remain in effect until further notice. Water samples will be collected and results should be known in 24 hours.

The break, which was reported around 8 p.m., caused street and sidewalk flooding and left a giant hole in the road near 98 Preble Street.

“There is a big sinkhole in the street, I’m told one big enough to swallow an SUV (sport utility vehicle),” Lt. Gary Hutcheson said.

Hutcheson said Preble Street, from Marginal Way to Oxford Street, would be closed Thursday and most of the day Friday. Several side streets that connect to Preble Street will also remain closed to traffic Friday, including Elm, Kennebec, Somerset and Lancaster streets, he said.

Video courtesy WCSH-TV

Police set up barricades and urged motorists to seek alternate routes for the Friday morning commute. Hutcheson said drivers heading downtown might want to take State, High or Franklin streets as detours.

Several downtown businesses, including Binga’s Stadium, and homes experienced a drop in water pressure after the break occurred in a 16-inch water main.

“We had a pretty substantial flood in the street and on the sidewalk,” said Marion Davis, a Bayside Bowl employee. But Davis said the bowling alley remained open for a league event.

Portland Water District issued this map of streets on the Eastern Peninsula where the boil-water order is in effect.

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling posted an update on his Facebook page.

“As many in Portland know, we have had a major water break on Preble Street that greatly reduced the water pressure on Munjoy Hill,” Strimling said in a message posted on his Facebook page. “Portland Water District is on site and has reduced the pressure all over the peninsula to find the problem.”

Strimling said City Manager Jon Jennings told him it will probably take the water district all night to fix the break.

“But most importantly, if you have lost pressure tonight, they are about to issue a boil water order for water usage in the morning. That means boil the water that comes out of your tap to stay safe until further notice,” Strimling said.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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