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July 10, 2018 8:14 PM

Downtown Gas Explosion (FINAl ALERT UPDATE)

All residents are advised to avoid Downtown Sun Prairie. Several streets are closed due to a major gas explosion. Residents are being evacuated in a five-block radius of Main and Bristol. Residents near the affected areas are advised not to use electrical devices, use any open flames, or start a vehicle. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available.

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Latest Update:

July 20, 2018 8:28 PM

At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Friday July 20th, City Administrator Aaron Oppenheimer was notified by Sun Prairie Police Chief Pat Anhalt that the investigation at the Downtown gas explosion site has been concluded by both the Sun Prairie Police Department and investigating insurance companies.

The site can now be transitioned to the the City for clean up and recovery.

The City looks forward to getting the area cleaned, repaired and functioning again, and greatly appreciates the ongoing patience and cooperation of impacted residents and businesses.

Prior Updates

July 20, 2018 4:25 PM

Governor Scott Walker today declared a State of Emergency for the City of Sun Prairie and Dane County due to the explosion that destroyed portions of downtown Sun Prairie. The executive order directs state agencies to continue to provide aid to the community and its citizens as they recover following last week’s devastating fire.

Read the full Press Release at WisPolitics.com
July 20, 2018 12:26 PM

Updates will be transitioning from the Alert Center to the regular website on Monday July 23, 2018. See link below.

Disaster Recovery Website
July 19, 2018 2:16 PM

The following update was provided by City Administrator Aaron Oppenheimer at 1:50 p.m.:

The City has moved the perimeter fence around the incident area, shrinking the size of the cordoned off area. This will allow several businesses previously in the “green zone” area that had not been able to begin to fully assess damages, make repairs, start clean up and get on the road to reopening.

The only buildings that will remain in the reduced green zone will be the ones that need significant repair. A list of these businesses will be reviewed at the Business Information meeting here at City Hall at 10 am on Friday July 20th. The attachment is a map of the new, smaller green zone. We will be notifying businesses of their new status.

Other updates:
• This evening (Thursday), DOT Secretary Ross as well as other DOT officials will hold a public information meeting 5:30 pm at Sun Prairie City Hall in the Council Chambers. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the process and timeline for the reconstruction of the Bristol and Main Street intersection.
• There will be a update meeting for Downtown Businesses at 10 AM Friday July 20th in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
Please contact me with any questions.

Updated Green Zone Map
July 17, 2018 10:21 AM

The City of Sun Prairie has established a website for sharing of resources and information regarding the recovery of Downtown Sun Prairie. Go to:


Downtown Recovery Resources Website
July 17, 2018 10:16 AM


The City will be making deaf interpreter services available when doing formal media conferences/events, especially when someone who was impacted by an event is deaf.

All open records requests regarding this event are being handled with our City Attorney’s office in conjunction with outside counsel to compile and accommodate those requests as soon as possible.

The investigation in ongoing, but there has been significant progress made.

The hope would be to get businesses and residents access to their property over the next few days and possibly to open to community shortly thereafter.

Release of the scene does NOT mean that the investigation is complete. The investigation of this type of incident is conducted in phases, including information gathering, multiple analysis by different agencies and staff, coordination of those reviews and the findings, and then a full assessment.

A reminder that the investigation is being conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation, not the City of Sun Prairie. The purpose of the investigation is to determine the nature and timing of events to a point where charges would be recommended or not. The investigation is not at this point yet.


Teams have completed their “Rapid Assessment” of the immediate structure of buildings.

The Old City Hall Building (100 E. Main St.) has been evaluated first because of the proximity to the investigation area. At this time, assessors believe that there is not any immediate danger of falling. The building owner and his insurance company were allowed owner to come in and check out, the building. At this time, the primary damage is to the roof (displaced to east), but the brick façade is stable. There is a current danger of loose material (e.g. bricks) falling. This is why you will continue to see workers in this zone with hard hats on. Further inspection will be needed to make sure the building can handle road construction immediately adjacent to it. Concrete in the roadway will need to be replaced.

STH 19 (Bristol and Main St.) will remain closed through reconstruction. DOT will take on road construction.

Paul Davis (contractor) has secured most of the contracts in the area to clean up and repair individual buildings.

Additional coordination will continue to be required between Building inspection, the police department and other City Departments as the area begins to transition from emergency operations to economic recovery.

At the current time, the green zone fence is not ready to be tightened. Sal’s is not ready for business, and needs to be analyzed. Evaluating the the opportunity to tighten the fence will occur as more buildings are cleared. Public safety is always key. Keeping the public out is still necessary.

Preliminary analysis of underground utilities that has been conducted thus far indicates that they appear to be in good condition. Any damaged utilities will need to be repaired before the street can be opened and/or reconstructed.

There will likely be a press conference with WisDOT sometime later this week. Details will be announced when this has been confirmed.

As cleanup continues, contractors are sorting through all debris to identify any possible personal items not destroyed by the incident. This is likely to be a long process, in part because crews are very aware of the interest in any personal belongings that may have survived.

The City has received multiple offers from individuals and contractors to assist with cleanup. Due to liability issues and the ongoing investigation, all cleanup of public streets and public sidewalks will be done by private contract.

At this time, ongoing monitoring of natural gas has shown no additional areas of concern.


North of Fire Station on Bristol St, about 60 customers were impacted by the event. 10 customers could go back on gas once is reconnected. These and further reconnections will need to be done in conjunction with any road construction. Temporary service is available if necessary. 20 customers have to be re-lit yet, upon clearance that the building is safe. There are several tagged places that are ready for gas service to be reconnected.

Downtown gas systems have been checked with hand held testing devices, and appear to be “tight” meaning no gas leaks have been detected.

Business owners and residents inside the green zone can request to get into their business, and those requests will continue to be evaluated and escorts from the Fire Department will be used. Natural gas is not an issue for these businesses and homes. Coordination with Todd Lukens for access will continue until further notice.
Outside the Green Zone, residents and businesses have clear access from the City, but may still need the OK from their own insurance company to enter and occupy their building. The outside of the fence may be approached to view the area inside.


The Red Cross has ceased operations at the High School as of Friday. They continue to reach out to tenants and landlords. If there is someone who has not received assistance they can call 1-800-Red-Cross. There have been no calls for assistance since last Friday.

Donations of items are being directed to Sunshine Place. Geoff Wilkins of State Farm is accepting donations on their behalf. St. Vincent de Paul is accepting donations and providing vouchers. Cards Closet and Sunshine Place are accepting toiletries and brand new clothing.

Residents are still encouraged to call 2-1-1 for assistance getting referrals to other regional resources.

The Red Cross reported 66 overnight stays at the High School. More than 100 people registered the first couple of nights. Health services had 182 contacts requesting assistance. There were 197 disaster related mental health contacts.

Over 1,000 meals and snacks served over those couple days. 592 meals were served within the shelter at the High School. 1,387 snacks (water, granola bars, food) were served.

All donations Red Cross go to their general disaster relief fund. Anyone wanting to make donation that will stay locally are encouraged

Donate specific donations to bank of sun prairie if they want it specifically dedicated to sun prairie

To date Sunshine Place has met with 22 households (58 people) who have been displaced due to this tragedy. All have temporary places to stay. Case managers are in process of reaching out to these people with potential housing options. This is Sunshine Place’s number one priority

At this time, Sunshine Place does not need any more food. They have enough resources to supply the affected families at the moment. As these families get housed, Sunshine Place will reach out to the community to ask for assistance on specific needs/items.

If someone wants to help financially, donations to Bank of Sun Prairie is recommended.

If a family is within the restricted zone and is currently displaced, and has not reached to Sunshine Place we encourage you to call Joanna Cervantes (director of Sunshine Place) at 608-514-6210


As of 1 pm Monday Fire Station 2 is up and running independently with City staff. As of 6pm Tuesday, Fire Station 1 is running independently as well. Crews from other communities deployed through the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) will be returning to their home communities. Sun Prairie EMS has been operating normally since last Thursday. Until the formal investigation is completed, law enforcement will be staffing the perimeter fence. Once completed, this will be covered by other services outside of law enforcement which will be determined at that time.

July 13, 2018 3:49 PM

Our community has been shocked and saddened by the stories we've seen in Sun Prairie over the last week following a gas line explosion-- but it has also been moved to action.

And so have we.

On Tuesday, July 17, News 3 will partner with the Bank of Sun Prairie for an all-day telethon to raise money for the Disaster Relief Fund. Our phone lines will be open from when News 3 newscasts begin at 4:30 a.m. until the end of our late evening newscast at 10:30 p.m. to take donations for the fund to benefit the businesses and families impacted by this tragic incident. The Bank of Sun Prairie is assuring that 100 percent of the proceeds collected will stay in the community. Two organizations have already been identified as recipients: Sunshine Place and the Sun Prairie Emergency Food Pantry.

If you'd like to donate online now you can do so here: https://bit.ly/2Ng0pLZ.

Otherwise, join News 3 on July 17, call in to donate, and see the stories of those affected and the hope that has taken hold in the community.

READ MORE: https://bit.ly/2uvihuf


July 13, 2018 2:45 PM

A Multiple Agency Resource Center (MARC) has been activated for ongoing needs/resources of those people impacted and/or displaced by the downtown Sun Prairie explosion.

Time: 2 p.m. - 8 p.m., Friday, July 13

Location: Sun Prairie High School – cafeteria (enter through main entrance), 888 Grove Street, Sun Prairie, WI 53590

Confirmed agencies in attendance:

Sun Prairie Lions Club
Knight of Columbus
United Way 211
American Red Cross of Wisconsin
Salvation Army
Sunshine Place
City of Sun Prairie
Office of the Insurance Commissioner
St. Vincent de Paul

July 13, 2018 2:20 PM

Updated "Green Zone" Restricted Area Map posted July 13, 2018 is available here.

Updated Green Zone Map
July 13, 2018 1:44 PM

A copy of the presentation provided to Downtown Businesses is available at the link below.

July 13th Downtown Business Meeting Presentation
July 12, 2018 8:14 PM

***UPDATE July 12, 2018 AT 3:52***

Investigative crews along with fire departments assets, city engineering and building inspection have been working on decreasing the perimeter of the blast area to allow business owners and residents to gather property and to secure their buildings from damage that was done as a result of the explosion.

Please find attached a map where a security fence has been erected to protect the area deemed to still be under investigation and unsafe for public access. The green area is the location of that security fence. The perimeter outside the security fenced area will be protected by law enforcement personnel. Furthermore those areas marked on the map in purple will be open only for local traffic and not through traffic with the exception of the 200 block of East Main Street where there will be no vehicle traffic allowed.

Evacuation Area Map
July 12, 2018 8:14 PM


The Madison Fire Department’s Heavy Urban Rescue Team (HURT) is now in the process of going through the area of the damaged buildings to do a more extensive secondary search for any possible victims. They will also be evaluating the structural integrity of the damaged buildings.

I want to reiterate we have no calls of any missing persons in that area.

Furthermore people who were evacuated are now being allowed back into their homes once their home has been cleared by a We Energies representative.

That means that the perimeter established will continue to break down as more people are moved back into their homes.

More updates will be provided as they become available.

July 11, 2018 7:46 PM

UPDATE: The current time for Captain Barr's procession leaving the Medical Examiner's office for Sun Prairie is now estimated at 9:30 p.m.

July 11, 2018 7:26 PM

A procession for Captain Barr will begin from the Medical Examiner's office to Tuschen-Newcomer Funeral Home this evening sometime after 8:00 p.m. The exact time is not certain, and could be later.

The route will be as follows:

Highway 12/18 West to
I-39/90 North to
U.S. Highway 151 North to
Exit 103 Bristol St.to
Angell Street past the Firehouse to
Columbus Street to
Tuschen-Newcomer Funeral Home

Residents may show their support for Captain Barr and his family along the route, but we ask that you please be respectful in this time of loss--especially around the fire station and the funeral home.

July 11, 2018 7:26 PM


Residents are encouraged to utilize the 2-1-1 website from United Way of Dane County as a resource for other status updates and information. That site is:


WE Energies is proceeding with activation of natural gas services on a building by building basis.

Emergency crews have completed their sweep of the area, and the formal investigation of the incident can now begin in earnest.

Evacuation of the area originally removed approximately 50 people from the area and a "hot zone" was established. The hot zone was later expanded when it was determined the gas leak was not getting under control and gas could be traveling, and approximately another 65 people were evacuated. At this time, a command center was established at Patrick Marsh Middle School.

Since the beginning of the incident, 3 firefighters and one police officer were transported to the hospital. One firefighter has been released, one is in stable condition, and Captain Corry Barr, a 15 year veteran of the Fire Department, succumbed to his injuries responding to the incident.

Access to homes and businesses that are still restricted will continue to be restricted until such time as the impacted area can be deemed safe for the public.

Governor Walker toured the area with City and State officials, pledged assistance from the State of Wisconsin, and asked the community for their continued support of Captain Barr's family.

Additional information will continue to be posted here as it becomes available.

July 11, 2018 3:32 PM


A media update will likely occur over the next couple of hours, and a further update will be posted here. Additional information from the Medical Examiner's office is also anticipated in the next couple of hours.

City Hall and Sun Prairie Utilities will likely re-open tomorrow.

The restricted area continues to be reduced, and some more residents have been allowed back in their homes, while others have not yet been allowed to return due to ongoing safety concerns. There are still hot spots being found in the impacted area, and are being addressed by our Fire personnel.

The posted detour of Main Street and Downtown will remain in effect until further notice.

City officials have been able to tour the impacted area, and continue to evaluate next steps.

The City of Sun Prairie would like to again express our gratitude to the host of agencies, departments, community organizations and businesses that have provided support for the ongoing emergency efforts.

Residents are encouraged to continue to follow us here for more information, and we appreciate your continued patience and cooperation. Thank you.

July 11, 2018 9:15 AM

Main Street Detours, July 11, 2018

The following detour routes are signed, and will be in effect until further notice:

Westbound on Main Street:

Right on Church Street, right on Columbus Street, left on Wilburn Road, left on N. Bristol Street/Hwy N, right on Hwy 19/Windsor Street.

Eastbound on Main Street:

Right on S. Bird Street, left on Linnerud Drive, left on Market Street, right on E. Main Street

July 11, 2018 6:24 AM

Update: (Recap of 5:30 am press briefing)

City officials wish to thank everyone for the offers of assistance, but no additional volunteers are needed at the current time.

The Northeast YMCA is offering free daycare to anyone who usually goes to the Gingerbread House that has been displaced by this event.

The Y also has showers available for anyone currently displaced by this event.

The Fire Department has completed its initial sweep of buildings, and no additional persons were found. There are no current reports of missing persons.

At least 5 buildings have significant damage, including the Barr House, Glass Nickel Pizza, the Professional Building, Water Tower Chophouse, and a residential home. A full inventory of building conditions has not yet been completed.

7 civilians had minor injuries. Several public safety personnel were treated for minor injuries as well. One firefighter succumbed to his injuries responding to the event, and one remains hospitalized in stable condition. Additional information will be made available through the Medical Examiner's office at a later time.

There currently is no timetable to allowing residents and business owners back into the area. Fire and utility crews continue to work to stabilize the area. Fires are contained, but still active in one or two buildings.

About 500 customers remain without gas service at this time.

Street closures include Main St., STH 19, Linnerud Dr., Bristol Street, Columbus St. and several other Downtown streets. Residents are still advised to avoid the area. Information on closed routes and detour routes will be available through the City and Police Facebook pages and website.

The Red Cross continues to provide support for displaced families and residents at the Sun Prairie High School.

The event remains an active investigation, and additional details will be shared as they are made available.

Dane County Emergency Management will be coordinating future public information.

July 10, 2018 10:48 PM


Utility crews have shut down gas mains to the impacted downtown area. Gas leaks have been contained. Firefighters, City Utility crews and WE Energies personnel are venting gas mains and sewer mains. Remaining fires are related to this effort.

Evacuations have been largely completed, and some senior residents have been cleared to shelter in place. As soon as crews complete venting, search operations will get underway to ensure all persons were evacuated.

At this time, minor civilian casualties have been reported, and they were treated at the emergency command center and then released.

No timetable has been established as to when people will be allowed back in the area.

At this time, several buildings have sustained significant damage, but a full list of impacted buildings is not yet available.

Displaced families are being sent to Sun Prairie High School, and there are significant resources including the Salvation Army and Red Cross, at Patrick Marsh Middle School as well.

Keep watching for additional information.