1 firefighter dies in gas explosion fire in Wisconsin town



At least five firefighters, a police officer and six others were hurt in the explosion, which happened about 45 minutes after first responders were alerted to the smell of gas around a main line operated by We Energies, a private operator, Konopacki said. As of 2:15 p.m. on July 11, the fundraiser had exceeded its goal - $20,184 of $15,000.

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.

Another firefighter suffered critical injuries in the blast but his condition has been stabilized, according to Sun Prairie Police Lt. Kevin Konopacki.

Two firefighters and a police officer were taken to a local hospital.

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

WE Energies spokeswoman Amy Jahns said workers for a contractor apparently punctured a 4-inch natural gas main, sending gas leaking into a building ahead of the explosion. Authorities did not provide details on the civilians who were injured, including where they were in relation to the blast.

Help has also poured in to Sun Prairie High School in the form of snacks, water and hefty donations to help the Red Cross assist those who were forced to evacuate their homes. He said the building across from his shop 'literally lifted up'. "Our house shook", said Kim Sergenian, who lives in Sun Prairie.

"People were scrambling", said Owen, who lives above his shop. 'I thought someone had hit the building with their vehicle'.

The area is about half a block from the town's city hall. He said they both served on a downtown business committee. Firefighters were still battling flames more than three hours after the blast. She said the girls would run up to him screaming "Daddy's home!" whenever he walked through the door.

Associated Press writer Gretchen Ehlke contributed from Milwaukee.

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