Updated: Huge Fire Rocked Southwest After Gas Line Ruptured; No Injuries

The fire forced nearby evacuation and disrupted the morning commute.

There were no reported injuries in a massive fire near the intersection of 60th Street and Nicollet Avenue that led authorities to evacuate surrounding blocks Thursday morning.

Authorities are attributing the fire to a gas line rupture, which was contained after CenterPoint turned the gas off in late morning.

Neighborhood resident Tom Meckey was driving on 54th Street when the explosion happened.

"You heard a big boom and I looked to my right to see where it was coming from and you just saw this huge plume of flames in the sky," Meckey said, roughly estimating it at a few hundred feet.  "From 58th and Nicollet I got out of my car to take a picture and you could just feel the heat coming off of it. It was pretty intense."

Minneapolis firefighters enforced a multi-block no-go zone around the blaze. Minneapolis authorities initially pushed people back to 54th Street and Nicollet Avenue, but opened streets up to 58th Street by 10:45 a.m. Richfield police evacuated the area from 60th to 66th Streets, according to the city's Twitter. By 11 a.m., people congregating at 58th Street were allowed to return to their homes to the south. About noon, parts of Nicollet Avenue south of 58th Street was still closed.

Dedra and James Lee, residents of 59th Street, didn't hear the blast, but their dog did.

"The dog started barking, we came downstairs and I looked out the window," said Dedra Lee. "Once I saw the fire blazing up like that I was like, 'Oh my God.' That’s when I woke up my husband and daughter."

Lee said police came by about an hour later to evacuate them. The family spent the morning waiting on Nicollet Avenue for permission to return home.

Windom Spanish Immersion School was evacuated to Kenny School, which along with Anthony and Armatage were put on "Code Yellow Lockdown," according to Minneapolis Public Schools. Windom students will be transported home as usual.

It also stopped the flow of commuter traffic. Crosstown Highway and I-35W was closed around the impacted area.

the goosh March 17, 2011 at 03:11 PM
Has Richfield initiated any evacuations?
Jon Collins March 17, 2011 at 05:44 PM
Sorry for the delay, I was at the fire. Richfield communications put out a release today saying they'd evacuated 60th-66th on Nicollet. But it's all open to pedestrian now, looks like.
Dan Krolczyk March 17, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Wow. I would imagine are very very very fortunate it wasn't the typical gusty winds March day. I can't imagine inferno roaring sideways.
Mary Barnes March 18, 2011 at 12:12 AM
As ACE Hardware knows, we have been up and down Nicollet, alot. Of course I smelled gas, I have a sniffer nose. My question is, when will Center Point Energy listen, to those of us, that can smell? Minnesgasco, tried to burn our house down in 1976. Do not trust your gas man, if you smell gas. Thank you, Mpls, the airport, Richfield, etc., for being so well prepared. God only knows what would have happened in Texas. thats right, that would have drawn their guns and had a BBQ. Nuff said. Hi to my friends in Texas! Us, new sink fixture


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