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Suspected gasoline leak prompts evacuation of University of Minnesota athletic facilities

University spokesman Jake Ricker said all the buildings have been cleared and will remain so until campus police and the Minneapolis Fire Department determine that it is safe for people to return.

SPORTS-SUSPECTED-GASOLINE-LEAK-PROMPTS-EVACUATION-1-MS.jpg
Minneapolis firefighter D. Hill monitors toxic and flammable vapors over an open manhole cover due to a suspected gas leak Tuesday, August 2, 2022 on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Alex Kormann / Star Tribune / TNS
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Numerous University of Minnesota athletic facilities and other buildings were evacuated late Tuesday morning because of a suspected gasoline leak, school officials said.

People were directed to leave the following buildings, according to a campus safety alert: Williams Arena, Huntington Bank Stadium, the McNamara Alumni Center, the Aquatics Center, Recreation Center, Mariucci Arena and Maturi Sports Pavilion.

"All people are advised to stay clear of the area," the alert read.

The Minneapolis Fire Department said in a tweet that its crews were called out regarding a hazardous material by contractors working in the sewer tunnels located near SE. 5th and Oak streets, just north of the football stadium.

The contractors "reported their gas monitors alarmed, high petroleum smell and visual of petroleum in sewer tunnel," the tweet read.

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University spokesman Jake Ricker said all the buildings have been cleared and will remain so until campus police and the Minneapolis Fire Department determine that it is safe for people to return.

While the alert did not specify what type of gas was involved, Ricker said the odor "smelled an awful lot like gasoline."

The spokesman said the buildings were not occupied nearly to what would be expected during the traditional school year or when a major athletic event is being held.

On June 30, a fire in the basement of a three-story fraternity house along University Avenue prompted an evacuation of buildings for many hours along the main thoroughfare near the university.

Fire Chief Bryan Tyner said the early indication was that gasoline in the sewer system caught fire and blew several manholes along University Avenue. No injuries were reported from the fire at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity in the 1700 block of University Avenue SE., the chief said.

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