July 12 (UPI) — A Wisconsin firefighter died after a gas leak caused an explosion that destroyed several buildings in a Milwaukee suburb, local police said.
Firefighters in Sun Prairie, Wis., responded to a report of a gas leak at 6:21 p.m. Tuesday. As crews were evacuating the buildings in the area, an explosion occurred at approximately 7 p.m., WBAY-TV reported.
The blast killed firefighter Cory Barr, a 10-year veteran of the Sun Prairie Volunteer Fire Department. Barr also owned a restaurant — the Barr House — that was destroyed in the explosion.
Eleven other people sustained injuries, including one police officer, three firefighters and seven civilians.
Patrick DePula, the owner of a business in the area, called Barr “a champion of our community,” the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
“He and his wife bought the Barr House with the intent to build community around it,” DePula said.
Tuesday’s blast destroyed several businesses and homes in the downtown area of Sun Prairie, a small city with a population of about 33,000 people.
Nobody has been reported missing in the blast.
“Thank God that our firefighters and those that responded and our police officers were able to get a majority of those people evacuated before the explosion,” Sun Prairie Police Lt. Kevin Konopacki told reporters. “It could have been a lot worse, but this is by far, the largest I’ve ever experienced in my career.”