Watch CBS News

State officials take over investigation on underground explosion near U of M

WCCO Digital Update: Afternoon of July 2, 2022
WCCO Digital Update: Afternoon of July 2, 2022 01:07

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- State officials have taken the lead in the investigation into the underground explosion earlier this week that rumbled University Avenue near the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities campus. 

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety issued a statement Saturday saying that the State Fire Marshal's Office is taking over the investigation, working with the Metropolitan Council and city officials in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

While fire investigators believe the situation has stabilized, they promised to "remain vigilant."

As of Saturday morning, there has been no additional evidence of gas odors or high levels of flammable materials in the sewer system. Still, officials say that communities along the sewer corridor north of Minneapolis have been urged to beware of gas odors and to report anyone dumping flammable materials into the sewer system. 

"We will continue to monitor the sewer system over the next few days, along with the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, to ensure public safety," said Fire Marshal Jim Smith, in a statement.  "We also continue to investigate to find the source that is responsible for the discharge of a hazardous material into the system."  

The investigation comes after an underground explosion Thursday blew the manhole covers off a stretch of University Avenue. The explosion prompted an hours-long evacuation of residence halls, fraternity houses, and other buildings in the area. No one was hurt.

While it's yet unclear what caused the explosions, the Met Council believes someone dumped gasoline into the sewer system. Students in the area said that there was an odor of gas that had intensified over the last few days. 

During the evacuation period, the sewer system in the area was flushed, and crews from CenterPoint energy determined that there hadn't been a gas leak. 

According to state officials, the metro's wastewater collection and treatment system includes 640 miles of sanitary sewer lines and nine treatment plants. Fire investigators say they'll work with city and regional leaders to make sure any dangerous materials are cleared from the system. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.