State takes lead in U Twin Cities sewer explosion investigation

People north of Minneapolis urged to monitor for odors near sewer lines

A photo of a car flushing water
Minneapolis Public Works crews flushed the sewer along University Avenue near 16th Avenue on Thursday after a reported gas leak.
Peter Cox | MPR News

The State Fire Marshal's Office has taken the lead in an investigation of a fire and explosion on the University of Minnesota campus that happened on Thursday.

Fire Marshal Jim Smith said that the Metropolitan Council, the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the university are all working together to examine the state of sanitary sewer systems starting at the site of the fire.

“At this time, we think the situation has stabilized, but we remain vigilant,” Smith said in a statement.

Staff members have advised communities on the sewer corridor north of Minneapolis to be aware of odors. They also say people should report any one seen dumping flammable materials into the sanitary sewer system.

“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,” Smith said. “We also continue to investigate to find the source that is responsible for the discharge of a hazardous material into the system.”

The Thursday explosion prompted the evacuation of several buildings along and near University Avenue. People were allowed to return later that night.

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