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Officials: Minneapolis Fire gives 'all clear' after gas leak prompts evacuations

Officials with Minneapolis Fire say the cause is more likely due to a flammable gas spill rather than natural gas in the sewer.

MINNEAPOLIS — Several buildings on the University of Minnesota campus were evacuated Thursday after a fire and gas spill in the sewer line that blew manhole covers out of the street.

Officials were called to a residence on the 1700 block of University Avenue just before 2:50 p.m. Thursday on a report of heavy smoke and flames. When crews arrived, they received reports of several manhole covers that were blown out of the street due to an explosion, caused by a possible gas spill in the sewer line.

Crews began evacuating buildings on University Avenue between 10th Avenue Southeast and 19th Ave. SE — the heart of Fraternity Row. University officials later said they were evacuating buildings between 15th Ave. SE and Oak Street SE, as well as Pillsbury Drive SE to 4th St. SE.

At around 9 p.m. Thursday, U of M officials said Minneapolis Fire gave the "all clear" for university facilities to be reopened, and people were allowed back inside the university-owned buildings that had been evacuated. University Ave. will remain closed to vehicles between 15th Ave. SE and Oak St. SE.

Officials with Minneapolis Fire said the cause is more likely due to a flammable gas spill rather than natural gas in the sewer. Just before 6 p.m., university officials said the city was preparing to flush the sewer system, warning people around that area that it may emit a gas odor. Anyone who smells gas should call 612-624-2677.

No injuries have been reported and those seeking a temporary shelter are being urged to report to the east ground entrance of the Northrop Auditorium.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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