Contractor strikes natural gas main, firefighter killed in explosion

BREAKING: Gas EXPLOSION completely destroys buildings in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, USA

A union leader is identifying the Wisconsin firefighter killed in a gas explosion as a man who also owned a tavern that caught fire the blast.

"Thank God that our firefighters and those that responded and our police officers were able to get a majority of those people evacuated before the explosion, it could have been a lot worse, but this is by far, the largest I've ever experienced in my career", said Lt. Kevin Konopacki, Sun Prairie Police Department.

WE Energies spokeswoman Cathy Schulze said the gas main strike was reported to the utility early Tuesday evening ahead of the explosion. Authorities have cordoned off a half-mile radius from the blast zone downtown.

Paul Logan, Dane County Sheriff's Department operations manager, said several people were hurt in the explosion in Sun Prairie, which has about 30,000 people. The gas leak caused an explosion around 7 p.m. and produced a massive fire.

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

Barr had been with the department for 15 years. Five other firefighters, a police officer and at least six civilians were injured in the blast and sent to the hospital.

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"We are hurt", Garrison said of his team's loss of one of its veterans, "but we will come back".

Flames were spotted late Wednesday night at Glass Nickel Pizza, one of the buildings heavily damaged by Tuesday's natural gas explosion.

The Red Cross reported it was setting up a reception area for evacuees at Sun Prairie High School.

"People were scrambling", Owen said, according to Fox 6. He said the building across from his shop "literally lifted up".

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

He said the force of the blast knocked him back in his chair and that he ran outside and saw a ball of fire. We felt this boom and I thought something landed on our roof, it was so loud.

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