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Sun Prairie mayor, fire chief reflect on past year

SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) — At a remembrance ceremony Wednesday night, Sun Prairie Mayor Paul Esser and Fire Department Chief Chris Garrison each took to the podium to share their thoughts on how the community has responded to last year’s explosion, and how that response helped move the community forward.

The fire department lost Captain Cory Barr, while also seeing two of their own seriously injured: Ryan Welch and Greg Pavlik.

The fire chief told the large crowd gathered in front of Fire Station One that the department’s members experienced a whirlwind of different emotions over the past year. When the explosion happened and took the life of Barr, Garrison said people felt angry and hurt. Wednesday was no different. But while there was anger and sorrow, there was also celebration.

“I can tell you that every person who works here in our organization and all of public safety, as they were reflecting today, went through every emotion possible,” he said. “Every emotion, every draining thought.”

But this past year, he said the community and their own families have helped them find the strength they need to go on and get through those emotions.

“We moved forward,” Garrison said. “We are an extremely strong public servant agency. We are here to serve this community and we always will.”

The fire department, along with all other emergency services and city departments, as well as Sun Prairie residents have served the community. Not only were they there for each other at the time of the explosion, but they are still strong one year later.

“It’s a story of heroism, it’s a story of loss, and it’s a story of our community pulling together,” said Mayor Paul Esser. “We learned much about ourselves on that evening and on the days that followed.”

This community is not the only one pulling together. Other communities came to Sun Prairie’s aid last year and Wednesday.

The Marshall Fire Department told 27 News it sent about a dozen members to cover calls for some Sun Prairie firefighters who planned to spend the evening with their community.

Sara Maslar-Donar

Reporter, WKOW 27 News

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