Evacuation lifted for SW Mpls. gas leakby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio,
Curtis Gilbert, Minnesota Public Radio,
Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minneapolis Fire Department has declared all is clear after a southwest neighborhood was evacuated because of a gas leak.
Officials said residents may now return to their homes after an area of southwest Minneapolis bounded by 39th and 42nd streets and Upton and Zenith avenues was evacuated because of a gas leak.
A spokesperson for Centerpoint Energy said shortly after 4 p.m. that the leaked had stopped.
CenterPoint Energy said winter weather caused a 6-inch gas line to expand, contract, and finally break letting gas escape into the area near 40th Street and Xerxes Avenue just before 3 p.m. Thursday. Residents called 911 after smelling gas and seeing it bubble up on the street.
The evacuation spanned a 15-block area in the Linden Hills neighborhood. Firefighters evacuated dozens of residents in an area bounded by 39th and 42nd Streets and Upton and Zenith Avenues.
Shortly before 5 p.m. the city announced residents could return, but reversed that decision because of high gas concentrations in specific locations. All but one block were given the green light to return around 5:45 p.m.
The leak complicated after-school transportation for many students at five schools.
Students at Southwest High School, Armatage Community School, Upper and Lower Lake Harriet Elementary schools and Barton Open School, who live in the area of the gas leak couldn't be bussed home.
They were taken to Ramsey Middle School where they were held until they could be picked up by their parents. Stephanie Thurling and her 11-month-old son spent hours warming themselves in a municipal bus as they waited.
"They just came knocking on the door and told us we had to leave," Thurling said. "I think we just were a little panicked to get out, but once we were out they seemed to have it pretty under control."
Elizabeth Leppart was home when firefighters came to her door.
"We just got a knock and I thought it might be a clean-up crew or something. They said, 'move your cars' so we went to grab our keys," Leppart said. "By the time we got back to the front door they said, 'you need to leave out the back door. You can't touch your car, it might cause a spark or something.'"
Deputy Minneapolis fire chief Perry Ebner said emergency crews had asked people to stay away.
"Avoid that area completely at this point," Ebner said. "More congestion of traffic and foot traffic does not help the situation, so if they can avoid that area until it's been mitigated it would be appreciated."
Ebner asked residents who smell gas to call 311 or Centerpoint Energy directly.
MPR News reporter Tim Post contributed to this story.
Tim Nelson is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.
Curtis Gilbert covers the Twin Cities as a member of the MPR News metro reporting unit.