Sun Prairie firefighters successfully located what could have been a serious natural gas leak at a senior apartment complex Dec. 15, and ended the evening singling Christmas carols.

Sun Prairie Fire Chief Chris Garrison said at about 8 p.m., Sun Prairie Fire & Rescue, Sun Prairie Police and Sun Prairie EMS responded to the report of a gas leak at New Perspective Senior Living assisted living facility located in the 200 block of South Bristol Street.

Initial reports indicated that gas was present throughout the four story structure.

Garrison said a Sun Prairie Police sergeant was first on scene and upon entering the facility, he noted a strong odor of natural gas. The police officer immediately used incoming officers to begin the evacuation of residents in the common areas. They were moved directly across the street to the Sun Prairie Public Works City Service Center Building.

Garrison said firefighters arrived shortly after, responding from a previous call. The two agencies immediately began working together to control the leak and continued evacuation with the assistance of onsite staff.

Fire personnel quickly determined the source of the leak — a broken flex pipe from a stove — and contained it to the point that they were able to downgrade the response.

The chief said the three agencies continued to work seamlessly with staff, moving residents to safe locations within the facility and placing firefighters with them to attend to their needs.

“The cold weather added some challenges, as the building required ventilation on all four floors. So all doors and windows had to be opened,” Garrison said.

Onsite staff brought blankets and cold weather clothing out for residents who were restricted to specified areas of the structure where firefighters and police personnel were tending to their needs.

Garrison said Sun Prairie Fire Department personnel worked with WE Energies and onsite maintenance to safely and effectively ventilate the entire four story structure.

“WE Energies worked with the firefighters on scene to monitor each of the floors and then individual rooms to ensure proper ventilation had occurred,” the chief said. “Fortunately, natural gas levels never elevated to a flammable range and crews were able to protect residents in safe havens and did not need to evacuate the 100+ residents.”

Garrison said the call lasted more than two and a half hours due to lingering gas in the building, but once it was determined that the structure was completely safe, residents were allowed to return to their units.

“No residents were injured during the process, and some sang Christmas Carols with firefighters to pass the time,” Garrison said. “A big credit to the onsite staff and WE Energies for their professional assistance.”

(1) comment

Robin Lindsay

I'm wondering if After Action lessons learned from the SP Gas Explosion of 2018 were utilized in this incident? Any Public Notifications of nearby neighborhoods? Have we a new evacuation plan and routes for vulnerable populations? Was the incident coordinated with Elected/Policy Makers from the Emergency Operations Center? Were transportation planning partners alerted and on standby? How about the American Red Cross? Were they notified to locate a potential shelter site or alternate housing for those affected just in case? I'm touched that Christmas Carols were involved. But what we should really want to know is...Are we really #SunPrairieStronger ?

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