Emergency Notifications

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July 10, 2018 8:14 PM

Downtown Gas Explosion

All residents are advised to avoid Downtown Sun Prairie. Several streets are closed due to a major gas explosion. Residents are being evacuated in a five-block radius of Main and Bristol. Residents near the affected areas are advised not to use electrical devices, use any open flames, or start a vehicle. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available.

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Latest Update:

July 19, 2018 2:16 PM

The following update was provided by City Administrator Aaron Oppenheimer at 1:50 p.m.:

The City has moved the perimeter fence around the incident area, shrinking the size of the cordoned off area. This will allow several businesses previously in the “green zone” area that had not been able to begin to fully assess damages, make repairs, start clean up and get on the road to reopening.

The only buildings that will remain in the reduced green zone will be the ones that need significant repair. A list of these businesses will be reviewed at the Business Information meeting here at City Hall at 10 am on Friday July 20th. The attachment is a map of the new, smaller green zone. We will be notifying businesses of their new status.

Other updates:
• This evening (Thursday), DOT Secretary Ross as well as other DOT officials will hold a public information meeting 5:30 pm at Sun Prairie City Hall in the Council Chambers. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the process and timeline for the reconstruction of the Bristol and Main Street intersection.
• There will be a update meeting for Downtown Businesses at 10 AM Friday July 20th in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
Please contact me with any questions.

Updated Green Zone Map

Prior Updates

View All Updates
July 17, 2018 10:21 AM

The City of Sun Prairie has established a website for sharing of resources and information regarding the recovery of Downtown Sun Prairie. Go to:


Downtown Recovery Resources Website
July 17, 2018 10:16 AM


The City will be making deaf interpreter services available when doing formal media conferences/events, especially when someone who was impacted by an event is deaf.

All open records requests regarding this event are being handled with our City Attorney’s office in conjunction with outside counsel to compile and accommodate those requests as soon as possible.

The investigation in ongoing, but there has been significant progress made.

The hope would be to get businesses and residents access to their property over the next few days and possibly to open to community shortly thereafter.

Release of the scene does NOT mean that the investigation is complete. The investigation of this type of incident is conducted in phases, including information gathering, multiple analysis by different agencies and staff, coordination of those reviews and the findings, and then a full assessment.

A reminder that the investigation is being conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation, not the City of Sun Prairie. The purpose of the investigation is to determine the nature and timing of events to a point where charges would be recommended or not. The investigation is not at this point yet.


Teams have completed their “Rapid Assessment” of the immediate structure of buildings.

The Old City Hall Building (100 E. Main St.) has been evaluated first because of the proximity to the investigation area. At this time, assessors believe that there is not any immediate danger of falling. The building owner and his insurance company were allowed owner to come in and check out, the building. At this time, the primary damage is to the roof (displaced to east), but the brick façade is stable. There is a current danger of loose material (e.g. bricks) falling. This is why you will continue to see workers in this zone with hard hats on. Further inspection will be needed to make sure the building can handle road construction immediately adjacent to it. Concrete in the roadway will need to be replaced.

STH 19 (Bristol and Main St.) will remain closed through reconstruction. DOT will take on road construction.

Paul Davis (contractor) has secured most of the contracts in the area to clean up and repair individual buildings.

Additional coordination will continue to be required between Building inspection, the police department and other City Departments as the area begins to transition from emergency operations to economic recovery.

At the current time, the green zone fence is not ready to be tightened. Sal’s is not ready for business, and needs to be analyzed. Evaluating the the opportunity to tighten the fence will occur as more buildings are cleared. Public safety is always key. Keeping the public out is still necessary.

Preliminary analysis of underground utilities that has been conducted thus far indicates that they appear to be in good condition. Any damaged utilities will need to be repaired before the street can be opened and/or reconstructed.

There will likely be a press conference with WisDOT sometime later this week. Details will be announced when this has been confirmed.

As cleanup continues, contractors are sorting through all debris to identify any possible personal items not destroyed by the incident. This is likely to be a long process, in part because crews are very aware of the interest in any personal belongings that may have survived.

The City has received multiple offers from individuals and contractors to assist with cleanup. Due to liability issues and the ongoing investigation, all cleanup of public streets and public sidewalks will be done by private contract.

At this time, ongoing monitoring of natural gas has shown no additional areas of concern.


North of Fire Station on Bristol St, about 60 customers were impacted by the event. 10 customers could go back on gas once is reconnected. These and further reconnections will need to be done in conjunction with any road construction. Temporary service is available if necessary. 20 customers have to be re-lit yet, upon clearance that the building is safe. There are several tagged places that are ready for gas service to be reconnected.

Downtown gas systems have been checked with hand held testing devices, and appear to be “tight” meaning no gas leaks have been detected.

Business owners and residents inside the green zone can request to get into their business, and those requests will continue to be evaluated and escorts from the Fire Department will be used. Natural gas is not an issue for these businesses and homes. Coordination with Todd Lukens for access will continue until further notice.
Outside the Green Zone, residents and businesses have clear access from the City, but may still need the OK from their own insurance company to enter and occupy their building. The outside of the fence may be approached to view the area inside.


The Red Cross has ceased operations at the High School as of Friday. They continue to reach out to tenants and landlords. If there is someone who has not received assistance they can call 1-800-Red-Cross. There have been no calls for assistance since last Friday.

Donations of items are being directed to Sunshine Place. Geoff Wilkins of State Farm is accepting donations on their behalf. St. Vincent de Paul is accepting donations and providing vouchers. Cards Closet and Sunshine Place are accepting toiletries and brand new clothing.

Residents are still encouraged to call 2-1-1 for assistance getting referrals to other regional resources.

The Red Cross reported 66 overnight stays at the High School. More than 100 people registered the first couple of nights. Health services had 182 contacts requesting assistance. There were 197 disaster related mental health contacts.

Over 1,000 meals and snacks served over those couple days. 592 meals were served within the shelter at the High School. 1,387 snacks (water, granola bars, food) were served.

All donations Red Cross go to their general disaster relief fund. Anyone wanting to make donation that will stay locally are encouraged

Donate specific donations to bank of sun prairie if they want it specifically dedicated to sun prairie

To date Sunshine Place has met with 22 households (58 people) who have been displaced due to this tragedy. All have temporary places to stay. Case managers are in process of reaching out to these people with potential housing options. This is Sunshine Place’s number one priority

At this time, Sunshine Place does not need any more food. They have enough resources to supply the affected families at the moment. As these families get housed, Sunshine Place will reach out to the community to ask for assistance on specific needs/items.

If someone wants to help financially, donations to Bank of Sun Prairie is recommended.

If a family is within the restricted zone and is currently displaced, and has not reached to Sunshine Place we encourage you to call Joanna Cervantes (director of Sunshine Place) at 608-514-6210


As of 1 pm Monday Fire Station 2 is up and running independently with City staff. As of 6pm Tuesday, Fire Station 1 is running independently as well. Crews from other communities deployed through the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) will be returning to their home communities. Sun Prairie EMS has been operating normally since last Thursday. Until the formal investigation is completed, law enforcement will be staffing the perimeter fence. Once completed, this will be covered by other services outside of law enforcement which will be determined at that time.