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Few Take Advantage Of Warming Shelters

January 25, 2013, 9:51 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Few Take Advantage Of Warming Shelters

Xcel energy power trucks are expected to clog parts of Downtown Sioux Falls all weekend long.

Fire crews were called to 9th Street and Phillips Avenue early Friday morning. A fire under the street knocked out power to a chunk of downtown all day.

The latest Friday update from Xcel Energy said repair work involves replacing thousands of feet of underground cable in confined spaces.

“The fire burned itself out fairly quickly and now it's just a matter of getting the power back up and running. But what they saw was flames shooting out of the manhole covers,” Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Jim Sideras said.

Fire crews were called around 4:30 a.m. Friday. By 6:30 a.m. the power was out downtown. Xcel Energy quickly restored power to about 300 of the 500 affected. But company spokesman James Wilcox said repairing the rest will take time.

“All of those lines were damaged, so they all have to be pulled out and replaced,” Wilcox said.

“Some people may have already grabbed their own toothbrush and things like that. If you didn't, it's okay. We have brand new toothbrush and toothpaste. We have comfort kits we give people that don't have things on them,” Samantha Hill with the Sioux Empire Red Cross said.

Hill and Red Cross volunteers spent Friday setting up a shelter at the Red Cross headquarters near the Sioux Falls Arena. By nightfall few had shown up.

“At the time we got the first phone call we didn't know how many people to expect. And we still don't. In South Dakota a lot of people are able to reach out to family members,” Hill said.

Crews remained worried about other issues, like bursting water pipes in the dark, cold buildings.

City officials say repair trucks will continue to clog parts of Phillips Avenue. The best thing people can do is stay away to give them room to work.

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