A gas leak in south Minneapolis closed a portion of Hiawatha Avenue S. for several hours Wednesday evening and forced the evacuation of buildings in the area.

CenterPoint Energy crews were expected to work through the night to repair the leak, utility spokeswoman Becca Virden said.

Hiawatha Avenue between 31st and 38th Streets was shut down at 4:30 p.m., at the start of rush hour, while crews searched for the source of the leak. It reopened about 7 p.m. But a two-block section of 35th Street between Hiawatha and Snelling Avenues remained closed Wednesday night while crews excavated the street to repair the leak, Virden said.

ADM Milling employees reported smelling gas in a grain elevator and immediately evacuated the building, she said. Crews aired out the building and the workers went back to their jobs, she said. Residents evacuated from three houses also were able to return by early evening, Virden said.

The Blue Line light-rail trains along Hiawatha kept running when the road was closed.

Mary Lynn Smith