MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A manhunt is underway in western Wisconsin after three inmates escaped Wednesday night from the minimum-security St. Croix County Correctional Center.

The St. Croix County Dispatch told all New Richmond residents on Thursday that they should remain inside their homes, and officials with the local school district said that they made a decision to cancel all classes for the day.

Chief Mark Samelstad, with the New Richmond Police Department, said two aircraft and five canine units were deployed as part of a search conducted by the police department and county sheriff’s office.

The three escaped inmates were identified as Jesse Fairley, Andre L. Vance, and Kyle J. Peterson. The three were at the corrections facility for non-violent crimes, ranging from vehicular theft and drug possession to burglary and forgery.

Anyone who sees the inmates is asked to call 911 or the St. Croix County Dispatch at 715-386-4704 immediately.

Officials described the facility the three escaped from as a stepping stone that helps inmates adjust before re-entering society.

“The doors are not all locked,” said Jo Skalski, the facility’s superintendent. “Some are. Some aren’t.”

A stolen vehicle was reported about three miles north of New Richmond, and authorities say it may be related to the escape. The vehicle was a silver Hyundai Sonata with the license plate “597 LMS.”

Area residents didn’t appear too concerned about the escape.

“It’s a nice community, and everyone’s on alert,” said resident Michelle Nelson. “So I feel safe.”

Nelson did not stay inside with her daughter, Olivia. Instead, they went out to lunch.

Officials say the three inmates will face new charges once they are found, and they won’t likely return to the St Croix County Correctional Center.

Kate Raddatz

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