WISCONSIN, US.- A firefighter was killed and at least a dozen other people were injured when a natural gas explosion leveled at least two buildings in a Wisconsin community, authorities said Wednesday.
Firefighters had arrived to investigate a gas leak in the Madison suburb of Sun Prairie when the explosion happened Tuesday evening.
The blast destroyed several buildings and ignited a fire that belched a plume of ink-black smoke that could be seen for miles.
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Mahlon Mitchell, president of the state firefighters union, identified the firefighter who died as Sun Prairie Fire Department Capt.
Cory Barr, who also owned a tavern that caught fire in the blast. Barr had been with the department at least 10 years, Sun Prairie Fire Chief Christopher Garrison said. He also worked as a real estate agent.
“The Sun Prairie Fire Department is strong. We will keep on building from this. We are hurt, but we will come back,” Garrison said. Five other firefighters, a police officer and at least six civilians were hurt, according to Sun Prairie police Lt. Kevin Konopacki.
One of the firefighters was critically injured and remained hospitalized Wednesday, Konopacki said. WE Energies spokeswoman Amy Jahns said workers for a private contractor punctured a 4-inch (10-centimeter) gas main, causing a leak that resulted in the explosion that rained burning debris on downtown Sun Prairie and set vehicles parked nearby on fire.
WE Energies did not provide the name of the contractor. The Sun Prairie Police Department said people who were evacuated within a-half mile radius of the explosion were being allowed back in their homes.