Massive gas explosion in Wisconsin kills veteran firefighter and sends police officer to hospital

Chris Riotta

A veteran firefighter has been killed and multiple first responders rushed to hospital with injuries after a massive gas explosion occurred in Wisconsin.

The explosion rocked a populated area of pubs and restaurants in downtown Sun Prairie, less than a street from City Hall. Lieutenant Kevin Konopacki told The Independent that at least seven civilians and six firefighters suffered injuries, along with one police officer.

All have been released from the hospital except for one firefighter, who was previously in critical condition and has since been upgraded to stable condition.

Videos show a plume of smoke billowing from the Barr House pub as flames rise above the block of restaurants. Local authorities evacuated the surrounding area and established a shelter for residents who had been displaced by the incident at Sun Prairie high school.

“One firefighter succumbed to his injuries and passed away at the hospital,” Mr Konopacki said about the incident on Tuesday evening. “The seven civilians all suffered minor injuries and were released from the hospital.”

Witnesses described the incident as a scene of chaos. “It shook the whole building," Jill Thompson, who lives nearly two streets from where the explosion occurred, told NBC News. “I thought someone had hit the building with their vehicle."

"People were scrambling,” Steve Owen, who lives above his skate store in in downtown Sun Prairie, also told the news outlet. Mr Owen said the shop across from his “literally lifted up” when the explosion ripped through the area.

Police said an initial sweep of the blast zone on Wednesday found no new victims in the five buildings damaged by the fatal explosion and fire.

Authorities have not yet released the name of the 10-year veteran firefighter who died, pending an autopsy report.