University Village evacuated for two hours after CO leak

About 400 residents were cleared out after high levels of carbon monoxide were reported.

Emma Nelson

A carbon monoxide leak forced University Village residents out of the apartment building for about two hours Friday night. Officials let residents back in shortly after 10 p.m.

Minneapolis Fire Battalion Chief Steve Ebert said it’s unclear what caused the elevated carbon monoxide levels, which prompted building staff to call 911 shortly after 8 p.m. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly when inhaled.

Ebert said nobody was treated for carbon monoxide poisoning but one woman spoke with emergency medical technicians at the scene.

Metro Transit sent several buses to the scene for residents to warm up in. Officials planned to send one bus to Williams Arena, but it turned around en route after the all-clear. Building staff also told residents they could stay in the 17th Avenue residence hall during the evacuation.

Ebert said officials evacuated about 400 residents of the building, which houses both students and families.

University police Sgt. Jim Nystrom said several carbon monoxide readings throughout the building were high enough to potentially pose a risk to residents.

The levels returned to normal about two hours after the evacuation, Ebert said.

Ebert said several residents ignored the alarms throughout the building and didn’t evacuate right away. Officials went door-to-door to clear out stragglers after building staff directed most residents outside.

“They hear the alarms … and they just think it’s another false alarm, and they go back in,” Ebert said.

Graduate student Ana Claudia Dos Santos Sao Bernado, who lives in University Village, moved to a bus after spending about 15 minutes outside in her pajamas.

“This happens all the time, so I thought we’d get back in [right away],” she said.

There were a few carbon monoxide level readings above normal throughout the day Friday. After an increasing number of residents reported elevated levels in their apartments, building staff called 911, University Village Office Assistant Erin Montemurro said.

The University sent a text alert out to students after the evacuation, warning them to stay out of the building. Officials did not evacuate businesses on the ground floor of University Village.