A “major gas leak” forced evacuation of a 12-block area in southwest Minneapolis Wednesday afternoon.

A fiber optics company doing work at the intersection of Diamond Lake Road and Wentworth Avenue struck a 24-inch gas main, causing the leak, said Minneapolis Fire Deputy Chief Todd White.

“The gas started leaking ferociously into the atmosphere,” White said.

The fiber optics company shut down operations, called 911 and fire crews responded immediately.

“We evacuated the area because it was so strong,” White said.

The area evacuated was from Nicollet Avenue to Lyndale Avenue and from 54th to 56th.

Kathy Nelson, an apartment manager for Diamond Lake Properties, said she was told to evacuate the residents from the apartment complex at around 3:30 p.m.

Of the 81 apartments, about 30 households were present at the time, she said.

“I just wanted to get my residents out,” Nelson said.

Nelson said she didn’t smell gas when she was evacuating people.

She said the fiber optics company had been in the area for a couple weeks.

The Fire Department said the leak was capped by crews from CenterPoint Energy a bit before 6 p.m. Traffic resumed soon afterward, and those evacuated were able to return to their homes. No injuries were reported.

KAREN ZAMORA