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Emotional welcome home for firefighter injured in Sun Prairie explosion

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SUN PRAIRIE -- Two days after an explosion in downtown Sun Prairie, an injured firefighter is back home with his family. The community welcome Ryan Welch back to his fire station Thursday, July 12 with lots of hugs and tons of heart.

Welch was one of two firefighters inside the building that exploded Tuesday, July 10. Sadly, his colleague didn't survive -- making his recovery even more emotional.

According to the family's GoFundMe, Welch and Cory Barr were the two firefighters who went into The Barr House downtown to shut off the gas. As they were leaving, the building exploded. Barr died. Welch suffered a broken jaw, a burned faced, lost teeth and injured hands.

Ryan Welch

Krystal Bower brought her 4-year-old daughter out to line the streets, welcoming Welch back home. Her house shook during the blast, and she thinks it's important to honor all of the heroes who rushed to help.

"Because he's helped our community out," Bower said.

Like Welch, the community is also trying to heal. The Salvation Army leaders tell FOX6 News, the organization is helping 150 people impacted by the explosion. Sunshine Place, a community resource center, is helping raise money to cover food, shelter and necessities for victims.

Sunshine Place

"We're feeding breakfast, lunch and dinner," said Joanna Cerbantas, Sunshine Place executive director.

Ryan Welch

Two local banks have established funds.

"What we have right now is not enough," said Cerbantas. "Money would be the first part where they can easily help."

On Friday, groups participating in relief efforts like Sunshine Place, the Red Cross, Salvation Army and others, will meet to plan efforts going forward -- hearing those needs directly from people facing a life in pieces.

"We're going to then be meeting with the families, understanding how we can help them," Cerbantas said.

Sadly, leaders at the Sunshine Place say there are still some families impacted directly by this tragedy who have not reached out for help.

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