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Sun Prairie buildings destroyed by explosion will be gone by end of August, officials say

August 17, 2018

Sun Prairie’s slow recovery following a deadly natural gas explosion last month that killed a volunteer firefighter is gaining momentum.

The July 10 blast killed Capt. Cory Barr, injured firefighter Ryan Welch, displaced dozens of families and destroyed five buildings at the intersection of Main and Bristol streets.

Buildings destroyed by the explosion will be removed by the end of August, officials said in an update on Wednesday, and the intersection where the heaviest damage took place should be rebuilt by the end of construction season.

Two more signs of recovery: The old City Hall building damaged in the blast will be stabilized by the end of August, and the security company hired to patrol the damaged area will be released from its contract on Aug. 22.

Sun Prairie police had announced a week after the July 10 explosion that five buildings would need to be removed.

Those buildings include the Barr House, Razor Sharp Screen Printing, American Realtors, an American Family Insurance agency, Glass Nickel Pizza and Watertower Chop House, and a single-family home. Many of the buildings included apartments.

Once the buildings are removed, the basements will be filled in. Debris in the area has already been removed.

City officials met on Monday with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to work out details of an agreement to reconstruct the Main and Bristol intersection. DOT officials said that reconstruction could take up to six months.

The City Council will consider the agreement Tuesday.

Work to rebuild the intersection is expected to start after Labor Day and should be finished by Dec. 1, the unofficial end of road construction season in Wisconsin.

Firefighters from the Sun Prairie Volunteer Fire Department rushed to evacuate the downtown area July 10 when people in the area smelled gas and a construction worker called 911 to report that a gas main had been punctured.

Barr, who owned the Barr House with his wife, Abby, was not on duty that night, but family members said he felt compelled to help evacuate and secure his bar.

Barr and Welch, who suffered burns and cuts, had just left the Barr House when the explosion destroyed the building.

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