SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (CBS/AP) — A powerful gas explosion killed one firefighter and critically injured another in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin on Tuesday night. Several other people were injured in the blast that leveled buildings.
Authorities say a contractor struck a natural gas main in the downtown area of Sun Prairie near Madison.
The firefighter who died has been with the department at least 10 years, Sun Prairie Fire Chief Christopher Garrison said.
“The Sun Prairie Fire Department is strong. We will keep on building from this. We are hurt, but we will come back,” Garrison said.
Another firefighter suffered critical injuries in the blast but his condition has been stabilized, according to Sun Prairie Police Lt. Kevin Konopacki.
Four other firefighters, a police officer and seven civilians were also hurt, Konopacki said.
They were in the area checking out a reported gas leak when the blast happened.
Steve Owen, 60, who owns Sun City Cyclery and Skates in downtown Sun Prairie, said he saw firefighters and police officers on the street and then the explosion happened. He said the building across from his shop “literally lifted up.”
He said the force of the blast knocked him back in his chair and that he ran outside and saw a ball of fire.
“People were scrambling,” said Owen, who lives above his shop.
Jill Thompson, 56, who lives about two blocks away, said she saw smoke immediately after the blast occurred.
“It shook the whole building,” Thompson said. “I thought someone had hit the building with their vehicle.”
As a precaution, people who live in the area have been evacuated.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)