SUN PRAIRIE — The body of Cory Barr, 34, who was killed in a gas explosion in Sun Prairie as he worked to evacuated people in Madison suburb’s historic downtown was transported from the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office to the funeral home on Wednesday night, July 11 in a procession honoring the veteran firefighter’s sacrifice. He helped more than 100 people get out of the blast zone — and gave his life in the line of duty.
All of Sun Prairie came together to pay their respects on Wednesday night as the fire department led the procession to the funeral home.
- Along Highway 12 and 18
- North on Highway I-90/94
- West on Highway 151
- Exit 135 — Bristol Street to Sun Prairie fire station
- Turn along Angel Street
- Back up Columbus Street to Tuschen-Newcomer Funeral Home at 302 Columbus Street in Sun Prairie
"It will be very emotional. It will be very touching. When you lose somebody in your community, and somebody that was willing to run in and risk his own life to try and make sure everybody else was safe..." said Brenda Wagner ahead of the procession.
Captain Barr was caught in the explosion as he was working to evacuate people from the area, Fire Chief Chris Garrison said during a news conference Wednesday evening. Barr died after he was transported to a hospital, the Dane County Medical Examiner's Office said in a news release.
Barr had been with the department for 15 years. He also worked as a real estate agent and owned the Barr House -- destroyed in the blast. Garrison said Barr and his fellow firefighters and police evacuated 115 people before the blast. The chief choked up as he spoke and had to take a long pause to gather himself.
"We didn't lose a firefighter yesterday," he said. "We lost a family member."
Brenda and Chuck Wagner knew Barr as an acquaintance. They own a business down the street from the Barr House. Chuck Wagner was downtown when the blast happened, and was rushed to safety.
"I was right down there and it's a tough job and they do it and they're volunteers -- and you just can't say enough for what they do," said Chuck Wagner.
They joined countless others who paid their respects to this hero, grateful for his and other first responders 'service.
"We really respect them and need them in the community," said Brenda Wagner.
Barr's wife, Abby Barr, said in a statement that Cory Barr was "the best husband a girl could ask for" and lived his life by the motto "happy wife, happy life." The couple was raising twin daughters who just turned 3 years old. She said the girls would run up to him screaming "Daddy's home!" whenever he walked through the door.
"He was so outgoing, goofy, big-hearted, and would give the shirt off his back to anyone," she said. "To say that our family is devastated and heart-broken is an understatement."
Gov. Scott Walker toured the blast area Wednesday evening, telling reporters at the news conference that the entire state was behind Abby Barr and her children.
"On behalf of the whole state, we say we love you," the governor said.
Funeral arrangements for Cory Barr are pending. A GoFundMe.com account has been set up to support his family.