Shortly after 6:30 last night, a gas line exploded in Sun Prairie—a suburb of Madison, WI that is home to 30,000 people.
The blast leveled multiple buildings. Fifteen people were injured, and at least two firefighters were hospitalized for critical injuries. One of the firefighters died early this morning, but the other is in stable-but-critical condition.
The deceased firefighter had worked in the department for over a decade, according to Sun Prairie Fire Chief Christopher Garrison.
What Caused the Sun Prairie Gas Explosion?
While working for Wes Energies, a contractor struck a 4-inch natural gas main and created a leak. Wes Energies spokesperson Cathy Schulze said she did not know the name of the contractor or the work they were doing at the time.
Responders arrived to inspect the gas leak around 6:21 PM. The explosion occurred shortly afterward, destroying several buildings. Thankfully, a search of the buildings revealed that they were unoccupied.
Long plumes of smoke were visible for miles. Falling debris ignited parked cars, leaving several burning. The smell of gas was in the air for hours. Local residents said they could feel their houses shake from the explosion.
Roads through downtown were still closed this morning, and authorities told motorists to avoid the area.
Our hearts go out to the injured firefighters, police officers, civilians, and their families. We hope they get answers soon.