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Warning about flushing flammable materials follows Thursday explosion

The caution comes as authorities investigate an explosion and evacuation on the U of M campus.

MINNEAPOLIS — The Metropolitan Council is cautioning metro area residents and businesses about flushing flammable materials into sewer systems.

The warning follows an explosion and evacuation on the University of Minnesota campus on Thursday, which fire investigators believe may be tied to a gasoline spill in the sewer system.

"The only thing that should go down the sewer besides human waste is toilet paper," the Met Council said in a news release on Friday. The agency's Environmental Services Division said gasoline and other flammable materials should never be flushed down the drain.

Several blocks of the U campus around University Avenue and the Fraternity Row area were evacuated Thursday evening after witnesses reported manhole covers being blown out on the street. Firefighters gave the all-clear around 9 p.m. 

No injuries were reported.

Met Council staff said they are continuing to monitor conditions in the sanitary sewer system, as well as the Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant in St. Paul, which handles the sewage that flowed from the explosion area.

On Saturday, Minnesota's State Fire Marshal Jim Smith said in a press release that they believe the situation has "stabilized," adding that they're remaining vigilant.

“We will continue to monitor the sewer system over the next few days, along with the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, to ensure public safety,” said Smith in the release. “We also continue to investigate to find the source that is responsible for the discharge of a hazardous material into the system.”

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