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Gas line fire in Dell Rapids leads to evacuation

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

DELL RAPIDS (AP) — A gas line fire in Dell Rapids led to the closure of area streets Tuesday and the evacuation of homes and businesses.

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City Administrator Justin Weiland said a contractor working in the area hit the pipe, but it's unclear what ignited the fire. No injuries were reported.

The operator of the line, MidAmerican Energy, will take until the early evening at least to shut down the line, Weiland said. The gas will continue to burn until then, he said.

Minnehaha County sheriff's Sgt. Preston Evans said the flames initially were 20 to 30 feet high. He said firefighters have contained the flames to about a foot high and will continue to keep water on them to prevent the blaze from spreading until the line is isolated.

A nearby car, whose owner was having trouble starting it, also caught fire, but that blaze was put out. Evans said the gas line fire and car blaze are related, but authorities haven't determined which one started first. He said it is possible that a spark from the car might have ignited the gas.

MidAmerican spokeswoman Abby Bottenfield said the damaged pipe is a 4-inch steel metro gas line that runs down the road and feeds the service lines that go into the residences. She said only one customer will remain without service while repairs are underway.

Evans said electrical power has been shut down in the area as a precaution. It wasn't immediately clear when residents would be allowed back into their homes.

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