MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A semi-truck containing hazardous materials caught fire on Highway 23 near Paynesville, in Stearns County.

Approximately 70 to 100 homes were being evacuated in the area Friday morning as a precaution.

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The Stearns County Sheriff’s Department said the driver unhooked his truck from the trailer to drive to safety, and told authorities the trailer contained various oxidyzers.

When Paynesville Police arrived, they said the truck was “spewing toxic smoke.”

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A half-mile “exclusion zone” was established.

“The Stearns County dispatch center made phone notification to those effected and Stearns County deputies went door to door evacuating indivduals between County Road 85 and Highway 23 from Koronis Hills Golf course to Roseville Road.  Those displaced from their homes were sheltered at the Paynesville High School for several hours until allowed back into their homes,” the sheriff’s department reported.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation said the road would be closed “for the next half day.”

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