Injured in
Sun Prairie explosion?
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Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed in fires and explosions. If you or a family member were injured last summer in this Sun Prairie explosion, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

Fires and explosions make headlines across the United States every day. The aftermaths of those events often do the same.

If you set a Google alert for the term “gas line explosion” or “apartment fire,” your email inbox will be inundated with updates.

Here’s a look at a recent decision regarding a much-publicized explosion that occurred last summer in Sun Prairie, a suburb of Wisconsin’s capital city, Madison:

From The Daily Reporter: Two contractors working in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, before an explosion that killed a firefighter and leveled much of the city’s downtown last July 10 have been fined by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) for their role in the blast.

OSHA investigators ruled that Bear Communications of Lawrence, Kansas, and VC Tech, a firm hired by Bear, failed to call the Digger’s Hotline or utility owners to learn the location of a natural-gas line before digging to install a fiber-optic cable.

Neither company “within established or customary local response times, advised of proposed work, and asked to establish the location of the utility underground installations prior to the start of an evacuation,” according to OSHA.

While working for Bear Communications, VC Tech crews struck a natural-gas line, causing an explosion that killed volunteer firefighter Cody Barr, injured 11 others, and destroyed six businesses and a home.

OSHA cited the two companies for a “serious” violation — a designation reserved for incidents that at least have the potential to cause death or “serious physical harm” — and assessed a $12,934 fine to each. That’s the maximum amount allowed by law.

The companies have 15 business days from when they received the citations to contest the findings before OSHA’s review commission.

Sun Prairie explosion produces fines, lawsuits

OSHA fined two contractors who were working before an explosion in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, that killed a firefighter and leveled much of the city’s downtown area last summer.

Sun Prairie explosion:
No criminal charges

The companies involved in the blast appeared to catch a break last month when prosecutors, after finding the explosion had been the result of relying on incomplete and inaccurate information, declined to pursue criminal charges against them. But they’re now the subjects of various lawsuits.

VC Tech, Bear, We Energies and USIC Locating Services, an Indianapolis company that provides utility-location services, were named as co-defendants in a lawsuit filed Dec. 20 by Abigail Barr, the widow of Cody Barr.

In a statement released Dec. 21, USIC contended Sun Prairie officials were right to decide not to press criminal charges.

“During this holiday season, our thoughts remain with those families impacted by the Sun Prairie explosion,” the statement read. “USIC is pleased that this past week, the Sun Prairie Police Department came to the correct conclusion that there was no probable cause to believe that a crime was committed by any USIC employee. ”

Sun Prairie explosion:
Numerous lawsuits

The companies also are being sued by two firefighters who were injured in the Sun Prairie explosion. VC Tech and Bear Communications are also the subjects of lawsuits alleging they were trying to carry out excavation work without knowing the exact location of the underground gas line that was eventually ruptured after being hit by a drill.

The companies are believed to have not called the state’s Digger’s Hotline and instead to have tried to learn the gas line’s location by relying on a ticket pulled in May by another company. The contractors also failed to try to learn the location of the line by talking to USIC.

The suits separately accuse USIC of failing to notify other companies that no one had marked gas lines at the intersection where the excavation was to take place, and We Energies of not responding quickly to reports of a gas leak.

Free consultation

Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed in fires and explosions. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out the following form and submitting it: