Subcontractor ‘on site’ ahead of fatal Wisconsin blast |
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The Associated Press
Residents are relocated from a nearby home after an explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The explosion rocked the downtown area of Sun Prairie, a suburb of Madison, after a contractor struck a natural gas main Monday, sending an unknown number of people to hospitals, authorities said. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

MADISON, Wis. — A communications company said Thursday that a subcontractor was working “on site” before an explosion that killed a Wisconsin firefighter this week.

Authorities have said a crew punctured a natural gas main in downtown Sun Prairie on Tuesday, resulting in an explosion that damaged five buildings and killed Sun Prairie Fire Department Capt. Cory Barr.

Verizon Wireless said Thursday it had contracted with Lawrence, Kansas-based Bear Communications for a fiber project in Sun Prairie. Bear said in a statement to WISC-TV that its subcontractor was working “on site” but gave no other details. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the subcontractor was working in the area of the explosion or was responsible for breaking the gas main.

Bear said “many questions” remain and it’s cooperating with investigators. Voicemail and email messages The Associated Press left for Bear officials on Thursday weren’t immediately returned.

Sun Prairie officials declined to release any information Thursday about the identity of the workers who punctured the main, citing an ongoing investigation.

TDS Telecom said it had been working on fiber optics in the city as well but that none of its employees or contractors ruptured the line.

The explosion happened after police received a call of a gas leak in downtown Sun Prairie, a Madison suburb of about 30,000 people. Something sparked the gas while firefighters and other emergency responders were evacuating people from the area.

The blast rained debris up and down the street and leveled the Barr House, a tavern Barr owned. Ensuing fires damaged four other buildings, including Glass Nickel Pizza and a steak restaurant.

Barr was working to evacuate people when he was caught in the blast, Fire Chief Chris Garrison has said. Eleven other people, including five other firefighters and a police officer, were hurt.

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