Service Specialists: We replaced furnace at Sun Prairie home - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Service Specialists: We replaced furnace at Sun Prairie home prior to explosion


By Lysee Mitri - email | Twitter | Facebook

SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) -- A Sun Prairie heating company says it replaced a furnace on Wednesday, November 3rd, at the home where Tuesday's deadly explosion took place.

Police still have not announced whether or not the furnace installation was in fact the cause of the explosion. Sun Prairie PIO Rem Brandt said nothing has been ruled out as a possibility and the investigation is still ongoing.

Service Specialists says in a statement released today it replaced a furnace that had a cracked heat exchanger with a brand new furnace.  It has been working with police since Tuesday when the explosion occurred to "cooperate in the investigative efforts to determine the cause of the accident."

The company did not have a permit when it worked on the home.

It says the existing furnace was not safe and the company wanted to "provide a comfortable home in a timely fashion."

Service Specialists says "our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to all of the people affected by the explosion in Sun Prairie."

Sun Prairie building inspector, Dennis Allen, said contractors might do work on homes without getting a permit in emergency situations.

The hope is that they try to get a permit immediately afterwards.

"That is what we like to think happens… and, for the most part, we think it does but we do not control them because we do not know about [work heating companies do] until we get the paperwork," Allen said.

Allen says the building inspection office is only open 40 hours a week out of 168 hours a week. There is a lot of time in between that when heating companies might need to get work done.

Service Specialists says it appreciates Allen's honest assessment of the permitting process.

The heating company says it "assure[s] everyone there were no disreputable intentions for a lack of a permit when the work was performed."

The last permit issued with the city was in 2004, according to Allen.

The Sun Prairie building inspection staff called seven to 10 contractors Tuesday that they knew did work in the area on a regular basis. Service Specialists was one of those companies, but Allen says everyone who was contacted said the Coral Drive address did not come up in their databases showing their company had been there.

He did say, however, that it is possible information on very recent jobs may not have been entered into their databases by that time.

Now, Allen feels the most important thing is that Sun Prairie residents know they are safe.

"It is not a big problem like a gas main leak under the ground," he said. "We know that. Those things have all been tested."

WKOW also went to the scene of the explosion today. It looked a lot different than it did in the last two days. 

The street is now open with just the immediate explosion site gated off, but the area was mostly empty except for a few neighbors outside cleaning.

Andrew Phelps was one of those residents.  He returned to his home last night for the first time since the explosion.

"Last night was just like a cool down, recover, chill... Let everything sink in. And today is a new day," Phelps said.

Several cars drove through the street, slowing down to look at the small reminders that this was once someone's home.

"A house blew up. It's not something you can really deal with completely," Phelps said.

Lindsey Stephany, who lived in the house where the explosion happened, was released from UW Hospital.  Her roommate, Steven Slack, is still in fair condition.

Andrew Manley, 26, died in the explosion.

Service Specialists' complete statement is below.


SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) -- Service Specialists of Dane County, Inc in Sun Prairie released the following statement Thursday afternoon on their website in regards to Tuesday's fatal home explosion in Sun Prairie which police say was caused by natural gas.

First and foremost, this is an unimaginable tragedy and our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to all of the people effected by the explosion in Sun Prairie that occurred on November 9, 2010, especially Steven Slack, Lindsay Stephany, and Andrew Manley's family and loved ones.  Service Specialists has been a proud and active member of the Sun Prairie community since 1984 and considers every person here part of our extended family. 

On Wednesday, November 3, 2010, we replaced a furnace that had a cracked heat exchanger with a brand new furnace at 1139 Coral Drive in the City of Sun Prairie.  It is our understanding that six days later, on November 9, a gas leak from an undetermined source resulted in an explosion at that location.  Service Specialists' Lead Installation Technician on this project is a long-time, valued member of our team, as well as a lead member of one of our surrounding communities' Fire Departments, who pays the utmost attention to safety, details and workmanship.

Because of the time of year and because the existing furnace was deemed unsafe, with an accompanying no heat situation, we wanted to be certain the owners/occupants were provided a comfortable home in a timely fashion.  While no permit was sought for this installation before the accident, we appreciate the City of Sun Prairie Building Director Dennis Allen's honest and candid comments regarding the permitting process as it pertains to same-day service.  It is not uncommon for work to be completed, a permit to be pulled, and an inspection to take place days later.  We assure everyone that there were no disreputable intentions for a lack of a permit when the work was performed.

Since early Tuesday, November 9, we have been and will continue to work closely with government officials, including the Sun Prairie Police Department, the Sun Prairie Fire Department and the State of Wisconsin Fire Inspector to cooperate in the investigative efforts to determine the cause of the accident.

We are proud of our entire staff and their dedication to our trade.  We would ask that they and their families be shown the respect they deserve during this trying time for everyone.

For obvious reasons, we are unable to comment further.  Again, our deepest heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by this tragedy.


Jeffrey L. Ollerman


Powered by Frankly