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Call before you dig

In the aftermath of Thursday's severe storms and tornadoes, communities are cleaning up fallen trees and other debris, a process that often involves digging by hand or the use of backhoes and other implements.

The Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety (MN OPS) warns that digging without knowing precise location of gas lines and other utilities can lead to power outages, communication disruption, fires and explosions.

Activities including tree removal, ditch cleaning and building demolition can interfere with underground utilities. Natural gas lines (both steel and plastic) , electrical cables, fiber optics for TV, internet and phone service, and municipal activities are all vulnerable to damage from shovels or heavier equipment.

To prevent disruption of underground utilities, simply dial 8-1-1, describe the location and type of excavation, and a utility locater will be assigned to mark the utilities. They law requires a response in less than 48 hours; in emergencies, locates are provided within three hours.

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