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Flash flood warning, fires, mudslides slam Scott County

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Balsa fire 5.jpg

Firefighters from one of five area fire departments attempt to extinguish a gas fire that had broken out due to a lightning strike.

Updated 1:35 p.m. Thursday.

It was a busy afternoon in Scott County Wednesday. 

Around noon, a flash flood warning was issued for southern Scott County, northern Le Sueur County and eastern Nicollet County. Meanwhile, fire departments across the county battled two structure fires Wednesday afternoon and a mudslide shut down southbound Highway 169, south of St. Peter.

Fires break out 

Both of the fires were in Prior Lake and one home was struck by lightning, igniting a fire, according to New Prague Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Steve Rynda.

No injuries after lightning sparks Prior Lake house fire

"(Lightning) struck the home and went down into the gas meter," Rynda said of the fire, which began around noon at 22705 Balsa Circle. "We were able to keep it to one side of the house."

At around the same time, a fire broke out at 6015 White Drive. No information was given about the fire's cause, and no injuries have been reported. The fire appeared to be extinguished by 1 p.m., though smoke was still present.

View photos from the Prior Lake fires below:

Mudslides hinder travel

Mudslides in the area caused difficult travel and drew warnings from authorities and continued to hinder travel into Thursday, according to MnDOT. 

The southbound lanes of Highway 169 (the bluff side, along the Minnesota River) and the inside northbound lane of Highway 169 south of St. Peter were closed due to multiple mudslides, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Motorists are advised that the southbound lanes of Highway 169 between Mankato and St. Peter will likely remain closed throughout the day Thursday, April 18 for crews to clean and haul debris from Wednesday's mudslides. Highway 169 northbound is open to traffic.

"It keeps sliding," said MnDOT spokeswoman Rebecca Arndt. 

Southbound Highway 169 traffic is detoured to Highway 22.

Highway 112 at 311th Avenue near Le Sueur opened late Wednesday, according to MnDOT. It had been closed due to flash flooding.

MnDOT crews are also closely monitoring Highway 93 into Le Sueur and Highway 99 east of St. Peter as the Minnesota River rises to yet another crest. Motorists are advised that both highways have the potential to close again.


The bluff along the Minnesota River on Highway 169 south of St. Peter repeatedly slid Wednesday during heavy rain, prompting the southbound lanes' closure.

Other highways that remain closed:

  • Highway 86 Wilder to Iowa (detoured April 15 for utility work on downed power lines).
  • Highway 19 east of Henderson (closed March 19 due to flooding).
  • Highway 93 south of Henderson (closed March 16 due to flooding).

When a road is closed it is illegal to travel in that area. Motorists can be fined up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail. In addition, if travelers need to be rescued from a closed road, other expenses and penalties will apply.

Flash flood warning

At 12:15 p.m., Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain across the area, where two to three inches of rain had already fallen over portions of Le Sueur and Nicollet counties. With additional possible rainfall amounts of one to two inches, flash flooding is expected to begin shortly, according to the National Weather Service.

Another round of light to moderate precipitation Wednesday afternoon was expected to result in localized urban and small stream flooding cross the warned area, according to Accuweather. Some of the locations that are expected to experience flooding are St. Peter, New Prague, Le Sueur, Le Center, Montgomery, Henderson, Lafayette, Cleveland, Kasota, Helena, Oshawa and New Sweden. 

A flash flood warning means flooding is imminent or occurring. Turn around, don't drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.

Safety warnings 

Authorities encouraged residents to take the following precautions: 

  • In hilly terrain there are hundreds of low water crossings which are potentially dangerous in heavy rain. Do not attempt to cross flooded roads. Find an alternate route.
  • If you are in the warned area move to higher ground immediately.
  • Residents living along streams and creeks should take immediate precautions to protect life and property

Correction: An earlier version of this story said firefighters in Scott County simultaneously battled three structure fires Wednesday. They battled two. We regret the error. 

South regional editor

Deena is the regional editor for Shakopee, Jordan, Prior Lake and Savage and is passionate about uncovering the truth. Deena also enjoys gardening, playing tennis and up-cycling furniture.


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