Neighbors pick up a muddy, wet mess left after massive canal bre - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Neighbors pick up a muddy, wet mess left after massive canal break

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KENNEWICK, WA. -- An irrigation canal burst late Monday night, forcing neighbors in the area to evacuate their homes. What caused the massive break might surprise you.

It doesn't take long for everything to change.

"It's pretty thick," Leigh Beirley said as he walked on top of several inches of soggy mud. 

Just ask Leigh.

"This was all going to be a nice new garden, planting fresh vegetables and everything," Leigh said as he surveyed his backyard covered in mud. "And now we got a mess to clean up."

Monday night, he went to the grocery store. When he came back...

"We had our very own personal lake for a couple hours in our backyard," Leigh said with a smile. 

Leigh lives right next to where an irrigation canal burst, hurling more than one million gallons of non stop water into Leigh's neighborhood on West 13th Avenue. His yard is now caked in mud and rocks.

The inside might be worse than the outside.

"It's all soaked right through," Leigh said as he stepped on a soggy piece carpet. 

Not to mention the smell.

"Think of a porta potties," Leigh said in disgust. "Think of a porta potty that just got turned over and it's all sitting in your basement. That's basically what it is."

Tuesday, workers for the Kennewick Irrigation District began reconstructing canal walls and pumping gallon after gallon of water out of the street, into the sewer system.

So what caused this massive canal to fail? Well, a burrowing animal is to blame. One possibly as small as a squirrel. 

"What happens," Chuck Freeman from the Kennewick Irrigation District said, "it's really hot so the little guys go looking to get cool and they just get closer and closer to the water. And unfortunately he found the water and then it took the canal out."

KID says they plan to take care of all the damages.

"I'm really sorry for the inconvenience and the hardship and the property damage," Freeman said. "But we will make it right with them." 

Despite the massive headache this has caused, Leigh isn't mad.

"No," he told us. "Mostly concerned. I think they should go through here and start lining the canals with concrete so that other families like ours won't have to suffer through something like this."

Burrowing animals are one of the most common causes of irrigation canal breaks according to KID. The irrigation district says it could be anything from a squirrel to a skunk or anything in between that caused this. They've called in a state trapper to track down the possible culprit.

The irrigation district also says part of their capitol improvement plan is to line their canals with HDPE liner. Something that would have prevented a break like this. 

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