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UPDATED: Large Gas Leak Prompts Evacuations in Linden Hills, Leak Rendered Safe

Minneapolis police, fire departments evacuating residents.

Update 10:10 p.m. 3/13/13: Public school parents are in an uproar over how the district communicated with parents about the incident, and about how some students did not get a bus ride home until 6 p.m.

Update 6:50 p.m. 3/13/13: City spokesperson Matt Laible emailed Patch at 6:45 with the news that all residents of the evacuation zone can now safely return home. Some residents of the 4000 block of Xerxes Ave South, near the original gas leak, had not been able to return home after the initial all-clear was been given.

Update 6:44 p.m. 3/13/13: We just got off the phone with a CenterPoint spokesperson. She said it wasn't construction crews that caused the leak, but rather "weather-related" freezing and thawing in the ground that displaced a 6-inch natural gas main enough to start a leak around 12:30 p.m.

Shortly thereafter, she said, a Linden Hills resident called 911 to report the smell of gas, and Minneapolis emergency crews responded. As a precaution, emergency workers evacuated 8 square blocks, from West 39th Street to West 42nd Street and from Upton Ave South to Zenith Ave South around 3:30. Virden told Patch that officials were worried about gas seeping through the soil and into the basements of nearby homes.

By 4 p.m., Centerpoint Energy crews had managed to shut off and repair the gas line. Virden said that no customers lost gas as a result of Wednesday's incident

Update 5:52 p.m 3/13/13: 

The latest from the City of Minneapolis: 

The Minneapolis Fire Department is now allowing people to return to their homes on all but one block of the affected area, following a gas leak in southwest Minneapolis. The block that is still restricted is Xerxes Avenue South, from West 40th Street to West 41st Street, and that block is expected to be reopened shortly after crews check a few remaining homes. CenterPoint Energy crews were able to safely shut off the gas leak, and fire crews monitored gas levels until they dropped to zero in the affected area.

Update 5:18 p.m. 3/13/13: 

All clear? Maybe not, says the latest announcement from the City of Minneapolis:

Fire crews are doing additional monitoring of the area near the gas leak in southwest Minneapolis today, and are now asking folks to stay out of the area until about 5:30 p.m. More information will be provided when it’s clear for people to return. Although most of the zone has zero gas readings, crews have determined that as a precaution, people should not return until gas levels drop in a handful of specific locations. Fire crews have been monitoring gas levels, and CenterPoint Energy crews were able to safely shut off the gas leak.

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Update 4:57 p.m. 3/13/13:

The Cub Foods towering inferno, it wasn't. 

Wednesday afternoon, construction crews digging on the 4000 block of Xerxes Ave South ruptured a natural gas line, prompting a 16-block evacuation of the Linden Hills neighborhood. Many Minneapolis Public Schools students at Lake Harriet Lower and Uper Campuses and at Southwest High School were held at their schools for varying periods of time while buses found detours around the evacuation zone, or until the homes of those living in the evacuation zone had been rendered safe.

Just before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, city spokesperson Matt Laible announced the "all-clear" in a statement emailed to reporters: 

People are now able to return to their homes, following a gas leak in southwest Minneapolis. Fire crews have been monitoring gas levels, and CenterPoint Energy crews were able to safely shut off the gas leak. Gas level monitors show in the area show that gas levels are back to zero, so folks are now allowed back into the affected area.

Update 4:50 p.m. 3/13/13: The Minneapolis Public Schools spokespeople still haven't returned Patch's multiple calls requesting information on how the gas leak was affecting students at Southwest High School and Lake Harriet Upper and Lower Campuses, but they found time to post this on their Facebook page minutes ago:

A southwest Minneapolis gas leak is affecting transportation for students who live between 39th and 42nd Streets South and Upton and Zenith Avenues.

Students living within the perimeter whose buses left before 3 p.m. were dropped off at the staging area at Ramsey Middle School, located at 1 West 49th Street. Parents should report to Ramsey to pick up their child.

Students living within the perimeter whose buses normally leave after 3 p.m. will be held at their schools until further notice.

Update 4:40 p.m. 3/13/13: Council Member Betsy Hodges (Ward 13), herself a Linden Hills resident, tweeted at 4:30 p.m. that the gas leak has been patched and the gas is beginning to dissipate, and the area will hopefully be clear within the hour.

A staff member at Southwest High School tells Patch that the school was never on lockdown, contrary to initial reports. "High School held students from dismissal for about 5 minutes asking them to return to their last class so the buses could get here with the detour.  That was the length of it."

Update 4:11 p.m. 3/13/13: 

What should you do if you smell gas? CenterPoint Energy recomends the following steps:

Step 1: Leave immediately! Do not use electric switches, telephones (including cell phones) or anything that could cause a spark.

Step 2: Go to a safe location and then call our natural gas leak hotline. Do not use e-mail or the Internet to contact the company about a leak, and never assume someone else has reported the leak.

CenterPoint Energy's gas leak phone number is

  • Minneapolis/St. Paul Area: 612-372-5050
  • Toll-free: 800-296-9815

Step 3: Alert your neighbors. CenterPoint Energy checks suspected natural gas leaks at no cost to you.

Step 4: Never try to repair a natural gas leak yourself. Leave all repairs to a trained technician.

Update 4:05 p.m. 3/13/13: In an interview with Patch, Minneapolis Fire Marshal Perry Ebner confirmed that students at Southwest High School and Lake Harriet Lower Campus are both "sheltering in place" until buses can be brought in to evacuate them. Neither school is located within the evacuation zone, but "we don't want any additional ignition sources in the area," Ebner said.

Construction crews digging on the 4000 block of Xerxes caused the leak, Ebner said. It's not yet certain when the leak will be shut off, Ebner said, as CenterPoint Energy crews must dig up a section of the gas main in order to render the line safe.

"Hopefully, that will be very soon," Ebner said. 

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Original Story 3:45 p.m. 3/13/13: Wednesday afternoon, a CenterPoint Energy gas line running through Linden Hills sprung a leak, prompting evacuations of a large portion of the neighborhood.

According to the official City of Minneapolis Twitter account, an area from West 39th Street to West 42nd Street and from Upton Ave South to Zenith Ave is currently being evacuated. Minneapolis police and fire crews have blocked off roads and are preventing anyone from entering that area.

In a phone call with Patch, CenterPoint Energy spokesperson Becca Virden confirmed the evacuation was caused by a significant gas leak. So far, no fires or other damage have been reported related to the gas leak.

Spokespeople with the Minneapolis Public Schools did not return multiple requests for comment, but the Star Tribune reports Southwest High School is being kept on lockdown. There is no word yet on the students at Lake Harriet Community School's Lower Campus. That school and Southwest High School are both located outside, but very near, the evacuation zone.

Eric Wood March 13, 2013 at 10:08 PM
I get message after message about "Soup with the Sup" Almost ad naseum... But a message in a critical time when parents are worried about their children...and you are silent. Come on Stan Allyene... You are better than this.

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