Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Contractor hit gas main before explosion that killed firefighter, hurt 12 others

Contractor hit gas main before explosion that killed firefighter, hurt 12 others

Authorities said at an early Wednesday morning news conference that at least six firefighters were injured along with some civilians when a private contractor struck a natural gas main about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Lt. Kevin Konopacki says two firefighters and a police officer were injured Tuesday in Sun Prairie when the blast occurred. He added that lives were likely saved as a result of the evacuation.

No deaths were reported, but Konopacki said buildings would be searched in the Madison, Wisconsin, suburb of about 30,000 once the flames were out. We felt this boom and I thought something landed on our roof, it was so loud.

WE Energies spokeswoman Amy Jahns told AP that a contractor apparently punctured a 4-inch natural gas main, which sent gas into the building, ahead of the explosion.

The firefighter who died has been with the department at least 10 years, Sun Prairie Fire Chief Christopher Garrison said. The gas leak caused an explosion around 7 p.m. and produced a massive fire. He also worked as a real estate agent and owned the Barr House - destroyed in the blast.

Konopacki also says some civilians were treated for minor injuries, but none were taken to hospitals.

Several buildings were significantly damaged, and there is no timetable yet for when people will be allowed back in the half-mile radius/evacuation zone. "We are hurt, but we will come back", Garrison said.

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Multiple videos from the area show that the explosion turned a section of Sun Prairie into a smoldering, burning hazard area. As of 2:15 p.m. on July 11, the fundraiser had exceeded its goal - $20,184 of $15,000.

The Red Cross assisted evacuees at a shelter set up at Sun Prairie High School.

He and wife Abby have twin girls.

"The outpouring of messages coming in about him and how wonderful he was.it's not people saying it, it's true".

Andy Gay, a WMTV employee, said: "Our whole house shook".

"It was a very complex situation", she said.

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