Sun Prairie is a suburb of the state capital of Madison. The gas main was shut off, and about 500 natural gas customers were without service as of about 5:30 a.m., she said.
The firefighters who had gone to check a gas leak battled the blaze, including 34-year-old Cory Barr, a 15-year-veteran and captain at the Sun Prairie Fire Department.
Dane County Sheriff's Office operations manager Paul Logan said some people were taken to hospitals, but that no deaths had been reported.
Sun Prairie Police Lieutenant Kevin Konopacki said Barr's work, and the work of countless other firefighters, helped save the lives of many Sun Prairie residents. We will keep on building on this.
The Red Cross reported it was setting up a reception area for evacuees at Sun Prairie High School.
Officials say at least five structures were damaged. "Crews could not access the area safely to stop the leak".
A union leader is identifying the Wisconsin firefighter killed in a gas explosion as a man who also owned a tavern that caught fire the blast.
"We are hurt", Garrison said of his team's loss of one of its veterans, "but we will come back".
Authorities evacuated buildings within a half-mile (0.8 kilometer) radius from the center of the explosion.
"People were scrambling", said Owen, who lives above his shop. The Barr House and Glass Nickel Pizza were blown up after the gas ignited, police said. He said the building across from his shop "literally lifted up". Witnesses said the fire broke out after a loud boom Tuesday night shook the community.
He said the force of the blast knocked him back in his chair and that he ran outside and saw a ball of fire. I thought someone had hit the building with their vehicle.
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