MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — A natural gas line exploded into massive flames in South Minneapolis Thursday morning at the intersection of Nicollet Avenue and 60th Street. There were no reported injuries.

Explosion Details

Just before 8:30 a.m., Minneapolis Dispatch began receiving calls about a possible gas main explosion. The flames were visible from a significant distance away, including along nearby Interstate 35W.

Crews from the Minneapolis Fire Department, Minneapolis Police and other local law enforcement agencies responded to the scene.

The flames were intense enough to melt off the letters of the Cub Foods sign nearby and scorch a number of cars in the grocery store’s parking lot.

Witness Jude Croyle said, “I was driving about 30 mph, it was about 30 degrees outside, I had the windows up and a wool jacket on. I still felt the heat on my skin.”

The highway was closed as fire crews battled the flames and CenterPoint Energy sent their emergency response team to the scene.

“It wasn’t a fire that built, so it was within a moment of the blast it was enormous in size,” said Erin Hughes. “So we ran down there to see if we could help at all but the heat was pretty intense, you couldn’t get very close and as you got closer it was just unbelievable how huge the fire was.”

Fire officials evacuated the immediate area and later expanded the evacuation area until crews were able to extinguish the fire around 10:30 a.m.

After the fire was out, evacuation area was reduced to 59th Street on the north, on the south by 60th Street on the south, Blaisdell Avenue on the west, and 3rd Avenue/Clinton Avenue on the east. According to city officials, the perimeter is simply a precaution and fire officials have not detected any residual natural gas in the air.

The explosion left a large hole in the road in front of a Cub Foods supermarket near the interchange of Interstate 35W and Highway 62. That Cub Foods is now reopen to the public.

Assistant Fire Chief Cherie Penn said gas levels in the air had reached 80 parts per million but are back down to zero.

Penn said fighting a gas line fire is different than fighting a house fire.

“As long as that’s venting and burning that’s the best thing that can happen here. Sometimes if we look like we’re not doing anything in these instances, the best thing we can do is let it burn,” she said.

Heat from the fire damaged some powerlines, street lights, electrical poles and vehicles in the immediate area. Damages have yet to be determined.

“I felt the heat in my car. It was intense. I never felt heat like that before,” said Kim Sax, who drove by the fire.

Viewer Shoots Great Video Of Fireball


An apartment complex, day care and church near the scene were evacuated, and people inside the grocery store were told to leave through the back.

Nearby Windom Dual Immersion School, which is at 58th Street and Wentworth Avenue, was also evacuated to nearby Kenny School where they will stay for the rest of the day.

Kenny, Anthony and Armatage schools were put on Code Yellow Lockdown, according to the district. That means classes will continue as normal but exterior doors to the school are locked and no one may leave or enter the building without proper identification.

Bob Harris said he and his wife, Marilyn, didn’t hear an explosion. They were eating breakfast when someone from the fire department knocked on their door and told them to leave their home. They joined a crowd of people walking away from the explosion area. Harris described the evacuation as calm and orderly, with the crowd mostly curious about what was happening.

Kiara Jones said a neighbor called to tell her she had to evacuate her home about three blocks from the blast. “You could feel the heat outside my house,” Jones said. “They said the manholes might blow.”

Read Bill Hudson’s report on the evacuations.

Mom Dropping Off Child Witnessed Explosion

Gas Line

A major trunk gas line for that section of Minneapolis exploded, and state pipeline safety officials are on the scene, according to Rebecca Virden, a spokeswoman for CenterPoint Energy.

The company says the explosion happened in a 20-inch steel line that was installed in 1994. No one lost power, except for those who asked for the gas to be shut off. This is a type of leak is rare, according to the company.

Minneapolis 911 did not receive any calls about a gas leak in the area prior to the fire. CenterPoint Energy is investigating to determine the cause of ignition.

Just over a year ago, another natural gas explosion destroyed a St. Paul home, prompting a lawsuit and forcing Xcel Energy Co. — the Twin Cities’ other major gas provider — to start a sweeping process to make sure it didn’t happen again.

Interstate Concerns

Concerns that the extreme heat may have damaged a nearby overpass on the Interstate 35W forced the Minnesota Department of Transportation to temporarily close the highway in both directions, agency spokesman Todd Kramascz said. Scorch marks were clearly visible on the road.

Cub Foods released store surveillance video the moment the gas line ruptured at 8:36 a.m. A car passed by the spot only seconds before a plume of black smoke erupted from the ground and turned into a ball of orange fire.

The explosion caused a traffic jam for miles when the State Patrol shut down portions of I-35W and side streets.

“It took me a half hour to get around the block,” said Sax.

Both directions of I-35W in Minneapolis were reopened by noon. Highway 62, from Portland Avenue to Xerxes Avenue, also was briefly closed to traffic. The 60th Street ramp remains closed. Also, Nicollet Avenue South is closed to traffic from 59th Street East to 61st Street East.

Fire Dept: Huge Flames, But No Injuries In Fire

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (102)
  1. Bonny Folkestad says:

    Sitting @ MSP huge flames observed. People are glued to the windows @ food court. The height. And random fire of flames has created a hush.

    1. Inquiring Mind says:

      When you assume, you make an “ass” of “u” and “me.”
      Tell us what are you supposed to be doing?

    2. Mrak says:

      Some people work second shift, moro

  2. Gail says:

    The flame is so big, I am at work downtown Mpls on the 25th floor of my building and can see the flame vividly.

  3. Valerie says:

    no live video?

  4. Steve says:

    Drove by it shortly after it exploded, driving on 35W north and could feel the heat through my car windows, and I was 2 blocks from the source!

  5. Retired says:

    I can see the flames in Eagan off Hwy13 Huge flames visible from across the Minnesota river. When i first saw it this morning I thought it might be the runway at the airport but never imagined I could see that far away.

  6. John Farrell says:

    I drove past on 35W right after it happened, could feel the heat from the freeway.

    1. kristen Witte says:

      I think it is BOb & Steve’s gas station at about 60th and Nicollet… scary – not far from our neighborhood.

      1. Alexa says:

        Not Bobby & Steves – drove past that about 20 minutes ago while trying to get on 62 from Diamond Lake. It’s a a block or two south of there. You may rest east

      2. Michelle says:

        It’s right on 60th in front of Cub Foods.

      3. Aurora says:

        You’re both wrong- it’s north of cub on 58th and Nicollet.

      4. fyle says:


        Do you work for FOX “News”?

  7. Amanda says:

    I just drove by that on my way into work. Talk about scary. People were STOPPING on 35W. The heat was so strong and the flames were wild…I was certain cars would ignite. That was incredible and frightening!

  8. Elisabeth says:

    We can see the flames from our office in Eagan.

  9. Lauren says:

    I am in Mendota Heights and could see it!

  10. Cheri says:

    The explosion and ball of flame happened just as I was exiting off 62 to head north on 35W. The instant height (maybe 5 stories or more) and persistence of the flames made it difficult to continue my drive. I could still see the flames when I reached downtown Mpls. Shook me up.

  11. Kathy says:

    Us too! We are in the IDS Center Tower in downtown Minneapolis and everyone was gathering around. You know it’s a large fire if we can see it from here! Hope and pray everyone is okay and that they can get it contained soon!

  12. Brenda says:

    We had a brown out in our electricity about a half hour ago. Must have been related. I live on Diamond Lake Rd and we can’t see anything, but emergency vehicles have been steadily blaring by for the past half hour.

  13. karla says:

    i live in burnsville and came down Nicollet and burnsville pkwy and yiu can see the flames coming above the tree line through the fog. i just wanted to share how dar out you xan see it. thanks and good job.

  14. Denise says:

    Sitting at work on the 12th floor in downtown Minneapolis, and i can see the shooting flames. Scary. Sending my prayers, hoping no one was hurt

  15. todd says:

    I”m in winston salem, NC and can see it, on the MN traffic cams. hope no one got hurt.

  16. CZ says:

    I am in Mendota Heights/Eagan at 494 and Pilot Knob. I can see the flames from here, look to be up to 100 feet tall and almost a half block wide at times!

  17. A spartan says:

    We can see it from RHS

  18. Nate says:

    I’m across the street. It’s either Cub Foods or their parking lot. Gas line.

  19. Ms Calvit says:

    im in schoooool and i saw it happen,…..freaky


  20. Ann says:

    Probably a little difficult to study when you see flames from the high school!!!

  21. Keith Sucks says:

    i can it from holy angels were im not doing my school work OOOH SNAP

  22. Carrie says:

    I can see it from 34th and American Blvd in Bloomington!!

  23. Judy says:

    Let’s pray there are no casualties! Isnt that more important than the distance in which you can see it?

    1. Wow! says:

      From my point of view the flames are brilliant flashing lights. I don’t see any casualties. Though I hope there are no casualties, that’s not relevant from my point of view anyway. It’s just something freakish to look at.

  24. Jo says:

    Minneapolis 911 dispatchers and operators are doing a fantastic job !!!!!

  25. Krissi says:

    Not from that area, but is this the same CUB that was going to be protested at? On of the other stories on WCCO mentioned protests at CUB at 5937 Nicollet Ave that was supposed to start today at 11 AM. Weird that I just read that story and then this one popped up.

    I hope no one was severely hurt!

    1. CTULRUS says:

      Yes it is, they will do anything to get a news crew in the area.

      1. Dumb people suck says:

        Agreed!!! Like there isn’t other things more newsworthy than their stupid cause…..Can we say Japan?

    2. Sara says:

      I thought the same thing!!

      1. Sum It Up says:

        Perhaps THAT should be, ‘they’ will do ANYTHING to get rid of ANYTHING OR ONE that stands in THEIR way of $-PROFIT; shortly, we’ll hear these energy slimeguy-greenwashers’ excuse for this… the ‘sterilized: probable and/or unknown cause’.

  26. Linda says:

    Yes, I hope the same, no casualties. My heart sinks when I think of the possiblity. I’m praying for anyone involved

  27. I Wonder If... says:

    its a sign of the second coming folks ..:D

    1. Ed says:

      Ya, the second coming of CTUL maybe.

  28. YADI says:


  29. Joel vargoose says:

    Omg. Delete rox!!!

  30. Cricket says:

    Someone at Holy Angels needs to pay more attention in English class 😉
    Ohhh SNAP

  31. Michael says:

    Drove past it at 8:40am and felt the heat in my car. I saw it 2 miles before I got to it. Really hope everyone is safe. It looked hellish.

  32. Guest says:

    No, but your employer is probably paying you to work right now and look at how well that is working out…

    1. Ed says:

      Hey Guest, Get a job then you can worry about how hard other people are working.

  33. Joel vargoose says:


  34. Mel says:

    So far, the news in saying no one was hurt. I don’t understand why they can’t turn the gas off? It’s been burning for an hour. From the helicopter coverage it looks like a muddy geiser with flames shooting out.

  35. Sarah says:

    I am watching the live coverage. Where are the emergency vehicles?S

  36. Joel vargoose says:

    Delebo rox!!! Omg tht is a big fire!

  37. Mrs.malinski says:

    gabe isn’t listening in english class this is your mom

  38. Mrs.malinski says:

    hola senor you rock

  39. Andrea says:

    I was on my way to work at Ramsey School when it went off right next to me. I had missed my turn at 46th and went on to the next one. All of a sudden a huge fire ball went off. I couldn’t see what was on fire. It was extremely hot even from inside my car. The road was all steaming up and I quickly did a U turn. This is right across from Cub Foods. I am still shaking. It happened at 8:35 a.m. It took me three attempts to call 911. There was nobody else around when it went off. There was a guy in fatigues about a block from it taking pictures of it with his camera though. Very scary start to my work day. Kids are coming into school. They say we are safe. We are on Nicollet about a couple of blocks away.

    1. Sum It Up says:

      Now, THAT’S most interesting! You’re ON THE SCENE AS IT OCCURS and see::
      “… a guy in fatigues… a block (away)…taking pictures of (initial blast).”

      ~So, this “guy” is all set, waiting to snap a few… his camera/equip. larger/non-cell as it drew your attention, and you could see it “a block away”; the fact that this guy/activity was HIGHLY UNUSUAL/suspicious caused you to make a ‘mental-note’ of him.

    2. Ed says:

      Truly?? and you didn’t mention that the coppers in the area?

  40. Gabe malinski is listening says:

    Sorry mommy

    1. Mrs. Delebo's 2nd hour honors english class says:

      Don’t forget to tell your mom this was during Cougar Time where you didn’t have to listen, Gabe! Then you won’t be in trouble any more! 🙂

  41. Chris says:

    We have been watching it from the 5th floor of the HealthPartners bldg, near MOA – – whoops, better get back to work 🙂

  42. lol says:

    Now that is funny guest!!!

  43. Jeff in Minneapolis says:

    In case anyone’s interested, the great Hinkley fire (Sept. 1, 1894) was visible from the Twin Cities. Gives you a sense of scale.

    1. jack mandelin says:

      No, you could not see the Hinkley from the Twin Cities. Smoke maybe? If you calculate the curve of the Earth and distance between the two places, those flames would have to be pretty darn high.

      1. Firefighter Ketih says:

        read the historic account fo the folks from the twin cities that in fact reported (Remember most of this started at NIGHT, that the “Northern Sky was like looking into HELL” with a firey red licking the night sky.

        To me, looking at trees clearly a couple of hundred feet in the sky, and as a firefighter knowing how dry wood and dry pine can burn, entirely beleivavle that you could see the flames from the Twin Cities.

  44. foge1 says:

    Who cares . All of you are like a bunch of junior high kids just gossiping.

  45. LA says:

    we have break schedules you know……

  46. Open your math book says:

    Dont you have something better to do!!!!!!!!!!

  47. slj says:

    Quit being a jerk Cudi

  48. Dido says:

    Sarah Palin can see the flames from her house!

  49. Sandi M says:

    I live 3 blocks away and right now at 11:20 news helicopters are all over the place , enough already!!! Also was appaled to see people with little kids trying to get a closer look while there were still flames , I mysel left my house at 8:50 and came back a hour ago and there were still gaukers with kids , REALLY???

  50. konjokris says:

    OMG this is a riot to read, and I’m at work. Can’t see it from Franklin Ave. The Palin crack was the best. Gabe, right on kid!!!

  51. BMW says:

    This could be a sign of things to come as the Suns solar flares get more active this Summer as predicted, and solar flares are more directed toward Earth. The solar storms could spark electric fires and blackouts, and communications blackouts.

    1. This is it. says:

      You are right on. I know for sure that this gas main explosion was caused by a solar flair. The solar flair itself was caused by aliens performing tests on the sun prior to invading earth.

  52. Derek says:

    I live a couple blocks away. Heard a boom, lights flickered, saw flames, told to evacuate, got the dogs out, brought them to my roomates parents and went to work =)

    1. Aurora says:

      I live a block away, ran home from work to get my pets out and back to work. Hope our homes are still there when we get back!

  53. mrscow says:

    My granddaughter is in the Day Care center right across the street from Cub Food. Im in the Virgin Islands and am worried she got out of the area saftly…Worried grandmother…

    1. Aurora says:

      I’m sure she’s fine- no injuries have been reported. My home is about a block from where it exploded, everything appears to be ok. Try not to worry!

  54. Frank says:

    I bet Michelle Bachmann is probably blaming this on Obama too.

  55. Screech says:

    Can’t we all get along? Golden rule I learned in second grade: treat others the way you want to be treated. Karma baby!

  56. Sam says:

    As I was driving south on I-35W, the traffic suddenly just halted. Then about 1 mile off, I saw flames shooting in the sky. My car’s outside thermometer said the temperature was 68 degrees fahrenheit. I thought my thermometer was messed up. It went back down to 48 fahrenheit after I got to Edina.

  57. Michele T says:

    SO GLAD no one was injured – but I am still a little shaken –I live in Richfield but work at U of MN – every morning & night I go up Nicollet to 60th and onto freeway under 60th street overpass – was actually RIGHT AT THAT SPOT 45 minutes before the explosion this morning!!!

  58. Chill says:

    Everybody just chill out and stop being so mean to each other.

  59. Teddy says:

    It seems odd that there were protesters who claimed to be assaulted at that Cub only yesterday. Coincidence? Link to protester story: http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2011/03/17/protesters-at-minneapolis-cub-foods-say-they-were-assaulted/#comment-84700

    1. sb says:

      those protesters were protesting for a completely different reason. one of them claims to have been wrongly fired from a company cub contracts through for cleaning.

    2. tm says:

      The assault occurred at the cubs foods by lake street in Minneapolis, not at this one on Nicollet Ave.

  60. Joel K. says:

    Marketing Gimmick for Cub Foods. lol

    1. s says:

      absolutely not a joking matter. not funny. think about who may have been affected by this event before you go saying things like that. rude…

      1. Joel K. says:

        Ok. Please inform me of a proper time and date when YOU find it acceptable.

  61. Steve Adney says:

    The fireball was so large that when I saw it I just began to vomit. WOW

  62. Denice says:

    I work at Abbott Hospital on the top floor (by Chicago Ave/28th/Lake)…It was an amazing sight to see from the distance. Couldn’t believe how HUGE the flames were. So, so glad no one was hurt and that they were able to get it under conrol because then I could truly enjoy the absolute awesomeness of this massive fire. An incredible thing to watch.

  63. Mary says:

    I think Sarah Palin can see if from her porch

  64. Elvis says:

    I go to windom dual immersion school and we had to evacuate and we walked 5 blocks and we could feel the heat.

  65. sb says:

    i work at the store the fire was directly in front of. i was standing in the doorway of the store watching it. the size was unbelievable! the noise was also incredible. the “hissing” and “wooshing” sounds of the gas spewing from the ground was amazingly loud. the heat made it feel like it was summertime in mexico. my car is toast, but at least we are all ok and i’ll have a great story to tell for years to come. definitely the most incredible thing i’ve ever seen!

  66. Lisa says:

    OK, so back to the topic – here is some really great footage
    best I’ve seen

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