Sub­con­trac­tor ‘on site’ ahead of fa­tal Wis­con­sin blast

Manteca Bulletin - - Nation -

MADI­SON, Wis. (AP) — 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, Kansas­based Bear Com­mu­ni­ca­tions for a fiber op­tics project in Sun Prairie. Bear said in a state­ment that its sub­con­trac­tor was work­ing “on site” but gave no other details. Bear spokesman Scott Stein said in a tele­phone in­ter­view that the sub­con­trac­tor’s em­ploy­ees were work­ing in the “vicin­ity” of the ex­plo­sion and were evac­u­ated be­fore the blast oc­curred. He de­clined to com­ment fur­ther.

Two days af­ter the blast, it re­mained un­clear who was re­spon­si­ble for punc­tur­ing the main.

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

Bear said in its state­ment that “many ques­tions” re­main and it’s co­op­er­at­ing with in­ves­ti­ga­tors. TDS Tele­com said it has been work­ing on a fiber op­tics project in Sun Prairie but none of their work­ers or con­trac­tors rup­tured the line.

Amy Jahns is a spokes­woman for We En­er­gies, which owns the gas main. She de­clined to com­ment Thurs­day when asked if who­ever punc­tured the line had made any ef­fort to lo­cate it be­fore start­ing work, re­fer­ring ques­tions back to po­lice.

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.

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