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Teen crashes into gas line, residents evacuated south of Dassel

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DASSEL -- Several homes west of Lake Jennie in Collinwood Township of Meeker County were evacuated Wednesday evening after a teen driver crashed a vehicle into a natural gas line and caused the line to leak.

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According to Meeker County Sheriff Jeff Norlin, emergency crews were called around 8:35 p.m. to the crash along 700th Avenue about a quarter-mile north of County Road 18. A vehicle, driven by a 15-year-old juvenile from Hutchinson, had struck the high pressure line that supplies natural gas to Darwin, Dassel and Cokato.

The driver and a 14-year-old passenger, also from Hutchinson, were not injured. Neither name is being released.

Responding crews found that the vehicle struck a farm tap valve stemming from a main underground natural gas line and a large amount of natural gas was expelled from the broken valve. Several homes in the area were evacuated as a safety precaution. Space was made available at the Dassel Fire Hall for the displaced persons. Northern Natural Gas technicians measured the gas levels in the area, and dispatched a specialized repair crew.

The evacuated parties were allowed to return to their homes around 12:30 a.m. this morning. A section of 700th Avenue between County Road 18 and 173rd Street was barricaded and shut down until repair crews have finished work.

The sheriff's office is investigating this incident and the driver was cited for reckless driving and driving beyond permit restrictions. Repair crews are still working at the site this morning.

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