Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Veteran firefighter killed in Wisconsin explosion identified

Veteran firefighter killed in Wisconsin explosion identified

Lt. Kevin Konopacki with the Sun Prairie Police Department said, "The response from this community's been fantastic and it's not coming up and saying, 'Hey, what's going on?"

Konopacki said authorities were evacuating the area when the explosion occurred, likely saving lives.

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (AP) - A police lieutenant in a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin, says no deaths have been reported after an explosion rocked the downtown area but that authorities will be searching buildings. It sent a plume of smoke and flames into the air.

"People were scrambling", said Owen, who lives above his shop. We felt this boom and I thought something landed on our roof, it was so loud. "We saw the smoke immediately". The blaze took at least three hours to put out, and by the end of it, a firefighter was killed while several others were reportedly hospitalized.

Further information about the dead firefighter will made available through the Medical Examiner's office at a later time.

"The incident came in as a gas leak, and that's what we were responding to", Sun Prairie Fire Assistant Chief Bill Sullivan said.

Police have not been able to determine when people will be able to return to the area.

Fire officials say it leveled several buildings on Main Street.

A spokesperson with We Energies, Amy Jahns, said a contractor, who is not affiliated with the company, hit a We Energies gas line causing a leak and then an explosion. The gas main was shut off, and about 500 natural gas customers were without service as of about 5:30 a.m., she said.

Elsewhere, the nearby YMCA of Dane County said it is offering support to all those who have been displaced as a result of the blast. "What can you tell me?' it's people coming up and saying, 'How can I help?'"

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