Sun Prairie emergency service personnel teamed with WE Energies workers to shut off natural gas and evacuate nearby properties after a construction crew working on the new municipal parking lot and the relocation of Angell Street on Thursday, Oct. 8 struck a gas line.
Fire Chief Chris Garrison said at approximately 1:46 p.m., Sun Prairie Fire & Rescue, Sun Prairie Police, and Sun Prairie EMS responded to the report of a gas leak in the parking lot that includes the relocated Angell Street near Church Street.
Upon arrival, Garrison said Sun Prairie Fire Command met with a member of a construction crew who had stated they hit a two-inch gas main.
Garrison said the hissing sound indicated a major leak. A unified Command Post was established and a confirmation was given that City Hall was being evacuated by the Police Department who also occupy the building.
“The contractor who is constructing the parking lot behind the Bank of Sun Prairie hit a gas line,” remarked City Administrator Aaron Oppenheimer in a statement released to local media. “The police department evacuated City Hall and the commercial buildings in the Main Street area. The gas has been turned off. No fires or injuries have been reported.”
Working with WE Energies, who quickly arrived on with four technicians, Sun Prairie emergency services established an evacuation zone.
Four teams of firefighters accompanied by one WE Technician were deployed to systematically evacuate all businesses and homes in the hot-zone. WE Energies were able to control the leak and the gas was shut off at 2:11 p.m.
Fire teams regrouped and were sent to check all the buildings for gas readings. That included City Hall, all the businesses on Main Street between Bristol and Church, and all homes on Church Street between Main and Columbus. Minor readings were found in many of the buildings. Fire units assisted with ventilation and deemed all occupancies safe for re-entry.
Sun Prairie Police Lt. Kevin Konopacki provided an update that included streets being re-opened at 3:15 p.m.
“So now we’re in the all clear,” Konopacki said.
No injuries and no property damage other than the gas line were reported.
“I would like to commend the members of Sun Prairie Police and EMS for their assistance,” Garrison said. “I would also like to praise the WE Energies Technicians for the quick actions and the teamwork they provided to keep our residents and Public safety personnel safe during this taxing response.”
Konopacki said he immediately thought of what happened during the July 10, 2018 natural gas explosion in downtown Sun Prairie.
“The biggest thing when compared to 2018 was that this was above ground,” Konopacki said, referring to the gas line break.
The 2018 explosion occurred as a result of an underground gas line being pierced and ignited. That explosion leveled several buildings, damaged others including the Old City Hall currently being renovated at the corner of Main and Bristol streets, and took the life of Sun Prairie Fire Capt. Cory Barr.