Firefighter Death Reported Following Explosion in Wisconsin Town

Leroy Wright
July 13, 2018

Konopacki also says some civilians were treated for minor injuries, but none were taken to hospitals. Konopacki says he doesn't know if anyone else was hurt.

1 firefighter is dead, several others injured and hospitalized after a gas leak explosion and fire in Sun Prairie. The blast caused burning debris to rain down on downtown Sun Prairie, set vehicles parked nearby on fire and sent up a cloud of smoke that could be seen for miles.

Fire crews worked into the evening and flames could still be seen from Sun Prairie High School, almost one mile away just before midnight.

Multiple news source state that Sun Prairie's emergency services led a five-block evacuation of the downtown area after the blast leveled several restaurants, cars and local businesses. Witnesses said the fire broke out after a loud boom Tuesday night shook the community.

Police have blocked off downtown streets from traffic and onlookers.

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Amy Jahns, a WE Energies spokeswoman, said the explosion occurred when workers for a private contractor punctured a 4-inch gas main. She said the utility's first responders were in the area working to shut off the flow of gas and make the area safe. The benefit account was started by the family's church in Sun Prairie.

Lt. Konopacki said Wednesday morning during a press conference that firefighters did an initial clearing of buildings in Sun Prairie - and no one was found. Firefighters were still battling flames more than three hours after the explosion.

"People were scrambling", said Owen, who lives above his shop. He said the building across from his shop "literally lifted up". A massive plume of smoke is rising from the downtown area in the community of about 30,000 people.

He said the force knocked him back in his chair and that he ran outside and saw a ball of fire. I thought someone had hit the building with their vehicle.

The area is about half a block from the town's city hall.

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