Subcontractor 'on site' ahead of fatal Wisconsin blast

A large swath of downtown Sun Prairie remains closed Wednesday morning, July 11, 2018 in the wake of a gas leak explosion Tuesday evening that leveled

A large swath of downtown Sun Prairie remains closed Wednesday morning, July 11, 2018 in the wake of a gas leak explosion Tuesday evening that leveled

In a view looking northwest from above, the aftermath of a gas explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., is seen Wednesday, July 11, 2018. At the top r

In a view looking northwest from above, the aftermath of a gas explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., is seen Wednesday, July 11, 2018. At the top r

People evacuate as they were told to move farther away the scene of an explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The explosion

People evacuate as they were told to move farther away the scene of an explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The explosion

Authorities work the scene of an explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The explosion rocked the downtown area of Sun Prairi

Authorities work the scene of an explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The explosion rocked the downtown area of Sun Prairi

Smoke rises as firefighters work the scene of an explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The explosion rocked the downtown ar

Smoke rises as firefighters work the scene of an explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The explosion rocked the downtown ar

Residents are relocated from a nearby home after an explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The explosion rocked the downtown

Residents are relocated from a nearby home after an explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The explosion rocked the downtown

Firefighters work the scene of an explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The explosion rocked the downtown area of Sun Prair

Firefighters work the scene of an explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The explosion rocked the downtown area of Sun Prair

A large plume of smoke from a massive fire is seen in Sun Prairie, Wis., Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Witnesses said the fire broke out after a loud boom T

A large plume of smoke from a massive fire is seen in Sun Prairie, Wis., Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Witnesses said the fire broke out after a loud boom T

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A communications company said Thursday that a subcontractor was working "on site" before an explosion that killed a Wisconsin firefighter this week.

Authorities have said a crew punctured a natural gas main in downtown Sun Prairie on Tuesday, resulting in an explosion that damaged five buildings and killed Sun Prairie Fire Department Capt. Cory Barr.

Verizon Wireless said Thursday it had contracted with Lawrence, Kansas-based Bear Communications for a fiber project in Sun Prairie. Bear said in a statement to WISC-TV that its subcontractor was working "on site" but gave no other details. It wasn't immediately clear whether the subcontractor was working in the area of the explosion or was responsible for breaking the gas main.

Bear said "many questions" remain and it's cooperating with investigators. Voicemail and email messages The Associated Press left for Bear officials on Thursday weren't immediately returned.

Sun Prairie officials declined to release any information Thursday about the identity of the workers who punctured the main, citing an ongoing investigation.

TDS Telecom said it had been working on fiber optics in the city as well but that none of its employees or contractors ruptured the line.

The explosion happened after police received a call of a gas leak in downtown Sun Prairie, a Madison suburb of about 30,000 people. Something sparked the gas while firefighters and other emergency responders were evacuating people from the area.

The blast rained debris up and down the street and leveled the Barr House, a tavern Barr owned. Ensuing fires damaged four other buildings, including Glass Nickel Pizza and a steak restaurant.

Barr was working to evacuate people when he was caught in the blast, Fire Chief Chris Garrison has said. Eleven other people, including five other firefighters and a police officer, were hurt.

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