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Firefighter Death Reported Following Explosion in Wisconsin Town

Firefighter Death Reported Following Explosion in Wisconsin Town

Konopacki said the firefighters were taken to a hospital, while the officer was treated at the scene. Konopacki says he doesn't know if anyone else was hurt.

Another firefighter suffered critical injuries in the blast but has since been listed as being in a stable condition, according to Sun Prairie Police Lt. Kevin Konopacki.

The powerful blast around 7:15 p.m. sent a plume of smoke and flames into the air.

Five blocks of the downtown area had to be evacuated, including a nursing home.

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

WE Energies spokeswoman Amy Jahns said workers for a private contractor punctured a 4-inch (10-centimetre) 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. Police blocked off downtown streets from traffic and onlookers. 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 Red Cross reported it was setting up a reception area for evacuees at Sun Prairie High School.

The blast appeared to be centered on the Barr House, a pub in an area filled with other bars, restaurants and businesses.

Police say an initial sweep found no new victims in the buildings damaged by a fatal explosion and fire in the southern Wisconsin community of Sun Prairie.

"People were scrambling", said Owen, who lives above his shop. Steve Owen, a small business owner, told reporters what he saw when firefighters and police officers started to mobilize, and he also recalled that the building across the street from his shop was "literally lifted up" by a fireball.

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

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