Documents: proper permits obtained before Sun Prairie explosion

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The investigation continues into a fatal natural gas explosion that leveled part of downtown Sun Prairie on July 10.

Deadly natural gas explosion in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin | Image Source: John Willems / Facebook / MGN

Target 2 Investigates filed an open records request for contractor permits granted by the city. We found the subcontractor that hit a gas line while laying fiber optic cable for a telecommunications company did not have a state certification, but did have the required permits.

Kansas-based Bear Communications hired the subcontractor to do the work for Verizon. The city of Sun Prairie required Bear Communications to get permits, which were granted.

Green Bay Public Works Director Steve Grenier tells us every municipality has its own set of ordinances and permitting processes when it comes to private work on city property.

"Each municipality obtains some opportunity to put whatever requirements they deem necessary for contractors working in their right away," Grenier tells us.

In Sun Prairie, the cable work did not involve electrical or plumbing.

Electrical and plumbing work requires state certification.

"Electrical and plumbing, there are certified lists, there are licensed plumbers required, there are certain tasks that require a licensed electrician, but for installation of fiber optic cables, again, there is no licensing or similar restrictions on types of works that can or can’t be done by a licensed or non-licensed contractor," Grenier says.

The investigation continues into what happened in Sun Prairie, but the records show the proper permits were granted for the work.

"Not being completely familiar with what Sun Prairie’s ordinances state or what their requirements are, if a contractor were to do similar work in the city of Green Bay, the permitting structure looks very similar to what we would have had," Grenier says.

The documents do not say whether or not the workers in Sun Prairie called Diggers Hotline prior to the explosion.

Firefighter Cory Barr was killed in the blast. Several downtown businesses were destroyed.