SPFD Captain Cory Barr killed in downtown explosion

Capt. Cory Barr, age 34, died in the July 10 blast that demolished The Barr House tavern, 100. W. Main St. around 7 p.m. Barr and his wife Abby bought Barr House (shown in this file photo from when the Barr House was featured in The Star in 2016) from Tony and April Hudzinski. Barr was a 15-year veteran of the Sun Prairie Fire Department.

A 15-year veteran Sun Prairie firefighter died Tuesday night following a natural gas explosion that destroyed a bar he owned in the city’s downtown.

Capt. Cory Barr, age 34, was reported to have died in the July 10 blast that demolished Barr House, 100. W. Main St. around 7 p.m. Other public safety personnel and seven civilians were also injured, according to Sun Prairie Police Department. Hundreds of residents were displaced from their home and found shelter at area schools and churches.

The Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin confirmed Barr’s death on Wednesday.

Sun Prairie Fire Chief Christopher Garrison told the Associated Press that the department is grieving over Barr's death.

“The Sun Prairie Fire Department is strong. We will keep on building on this. We are hurt, but we will come back,” Chief Garrison said.

Police received a report of a gas leak around 6:21 p.m. and started to evacuate the downtown Sun Prairie area.

The first explosion happened around 7 p.m. at the Barr House building, shattering business windows along Main Street. Residents from miles away said they could feel the blast. Four buildings had significant damage, including Glass Nickel Pizza, the Professional Building, Water Tower Chophouse, and a residential home.

Barr was 2002 Sun Prairie High School graduate. He is survived by his wife Abby and two daughters. Bethlehem Lutheran Church, the couple’s church, has started a GoFundMe page to support the family. As of 2:15 p.m. on July 11, the fundraiser had exceeded its goal -- $20,184 of $15,000. 

Area firefighter departments have taken to social media to offer their condolences following Barr’s death.

Barr and his wife, Abby, bought the former Ski’s Saloon in 2016 and renamed it Barr House, remodeling the tavern and continuing its friendly neighborhood hangout vibe. Cory Barr told The Star in November 2016 that it was his dream come true.

– The Star Managing Editor Chris Mertes contributed to this story.

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