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An explosion and fire prompted evacuations on the University of Minnesota campus Thursday afternoon, with fire and police responding to the area of University Ave. SE and 17th Ave. SE around 3 p.m. – eventually giving an all clear around 9 p.m. 

Evacuations were ordered at the 17th Ave. residence hall and all University Ave. addresses between 15th and 19th avenues. The evacuation area then expanded around 4 p.m. to include the area between 15th Ave. and Oak St. and Fourth St. and Pillsbury Dr., U of M officials confirmed 

Shelter was provided at the Northrop Auditorium for anyone displaced by the explosion or evacuations. 

The Minneapolis Fire Department confirmed crews initially responded to a fire in a three-story building in the 1700 block of University Ave. SE around 3 p.m. 

While working to extinguish a fire in the basement, crews learned of an underground sewer explosion that had blown manhole covers off the streets in the area, possibly all the way down to 10th Ave.  

"The cause of the explosion is unknown at the time and there remains a strong gas order in the area that responders are addressing," the University of Minnesota shared around 4 p.m. "While we don't believe that there are injuries, we cannot yet confirm that." 

Centerpoint Energy is also responding to the scene. 

The Minneapolis Fire Department has indicated a flammable gasoline spill appears more likely than a natural gas leak into the sewer. 

Around 6 p.m., the U of M stated the city began flushing the sewer system, which may cause gas odors to spread. Anyone who smells gas is asked to call 612-624-COPS (2677). 

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