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Vandals open Minn. hydrants, releasing over 1M gallons of water

Authorities in Wright County believe several juveniles are responsible for opening five fire hydrants

By Paul Walsh
Star Tribune

COKATO, Minn. — Officials just west of the Twin Cities say the recent loss of water pressure in the city was caused by vandals who pried open five fire hydrants and released more than 1 million gallons of water into a creek.

The not-so-funny pranksters targeted the hydrants in Cokato late Saturday into early Sunday, the Fire Department said in a social media posting Wednesday.

Wright County Sheriff’s Deputy Curtis Hakala said investigators believe multiple juveniles are responsible. There have been no arrests.

“This is no joke,” the Fire Department posting read. “This is a serious matter, and if juveniles are involved, they need to be held responsible for this.”

Depleting the water supply can pose a major public safety threat should there be a fire, the posting continued.

“This has happened in the past, but this time it wasted over 1 million gallons of water,” the notice continued. “This is why households had minimal water pressure early Sunday morning. ... This could harm lives of not only our citizens but also our firefighters.”

Cokato Public Works Director Jeff DeGrote said the water ran into the sewer system and from there into the already rain-swollen Sucker Creek , which wraps around the eastern and southern edges of the city, whose water use averages about 230,000 gallons a day.

The Fire Department said that not only would these young perpetrators be held accountable, but so could their parents for any damage the water might have caused to roads and other property.

Hakala said the five targeted hydrants were spread throughout the city of roughly 2,700.

Hakala recalled a similar incident in 2020 involving one targeted hydrant and added that “when we were kids, we did a lot of stupid stuff, but I don’t think we would have thought to do something like this.”

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 763-682-7600.

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