FILE – July 11, 2018, file photo, shows the aftermath of a gas explosion in the centre of Sun Prairie, Wis. The police in Sun Prairie are planning to announce on Thursday, Dec. 20 the results of a criminal investigation into an explosion that leveled a city block and killed a firefighter. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP, File)
SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. – There will be no criminal charges against anyone in connection with an explosion in a southern city of Wisconsin death of a firefighter and leveled several buildings, the head of the police announced on Thursday.
The 10 July explosion in the town of Sun Prairie occurred after a contractor installing fiber communication lines struck a gas main and the gas ignited about 40 minutes later.
At a press conference, the city, the police chief, Patrick Anhalt, said companies working on the project exchanged and used on the “incomplete and incorrect information” and that the law enforcement officials, including the county prosecutor and the attorney-general’s office, agreed that criminal prosecution is not justified.
The chief blame of the accident on “miscommunication” but not explain what exactly happened. Anhalt’t ask, but did the public make of a redacted copy of the report of the investigation. He said that researchers conducted 67 interviews and examined 45 pieces of evidence and the 400 pages of documents during their five-month probe.
The explosion killed the Sun Prairie fireman Cory Barr and injured eleven other people, including five other the fire brigade and the police. It was also a home and six businesses, including a bar that Barr and his wife possessed, called the Barr House.
Fire and police evacuated dozens of people before the gas ignited.
Barr wasn’t on duty when the explosion occurred, but the members of the family said that he felt compelled to help evacuate and secure company. He and another fireman had just left the Barr House when the building was completely destroyed.
Sun Prairie, a town of about 30,000, is in the east of Madison, Wisconsin, the capital.
Court documents turned out to be a utility-location employee failed to properly mark a gas line prior to the explosion. The search warrant application showed that the researchers were looking for evidence to support a second-degree reckless murder charge in the case.
Anhalt said Verizon Wireless entered into with Bear Communications for the fiber optic installation project. Bear Communications first contracted with Jet-Metro, but then changed subcontractors VC Tech, Anhalt said.
VC Tech went ahead with the project and, while they are in the “underground directional boring,” cut through a WE Energies gas line is not fully specified, the chief said.
About 40 minutes later, the escaping gas is ignited. The cause of the inflammation is not certain, Anhalt said.
“This error appears to be the result of miscommunication between USIC, Bear Communications, Jet, Metro -, and VC-Tech,” Anhalt said. “Prior to the explosion, conversations have taken place between representatives of each of these companies, both on and off the field, during which incomplete and incorrect information was exchanged and used.”
Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sbauerAP