On the afternoon of September 13, 2017, the city was challenged by a large explosion that shook the quiet Ice Age Falls neighborhood on Madison’s southwest side.

Emergency response to Stratton Way was initiated by multiple calls to the Dane County 911 Public Safety Communications Center. While en route, the Madison Fire Department recognized this call would be anything but routine. The first arriving units found a two-story single-family residence in shambles and engulfed in a large amount of fire, and later we learned one person needlessly lost her life.

Our partners in the Madison Police Department took control securing the scene right away and worked with Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) to ensure people were safely evacuated. MGE also confirmed there was no natural gas exposure to any other residents in the area. 

An event of this scale required a multitude of resources spanning the city, county, and state. Public safety divisions such as ours relied heavily on other agencies for support.

MPD remained our dedicated partners in the days that followed, ensuring the safety of the neighborhood while we pieced together the evidence of what turned out to be a criminal investigation. The ATF and State Fire Marshal’s Office were also instrumental in the investigation.

City of Madison Streets Division Superintendent Chris Kelley led the charge for an overwhelming support network. Chris arranged for other city agencies, like City Engineering, to support the “heavy lifting” with grapple operators. He also led his own agency to coordinate cleanup.

Building Inspection was involved to ensure the residents in the block had safe homes to return to. MGE was instrumental in ensuring the safety of the gas system throughout the process.

The Salvation Army and The American Red Cross also played an incredible support role for victims and responders on scene. Their policies and procedures ensured the neighborhood and first responders received proper care immediately and for days following the explosion. 

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office, Dane County Emergency Management, and the City of Madison Parks Division also supplied us with the proper facilities to allow for a functional command post. 

Each agency involved stepped up and did what it needed to do to ensure the safety of all residents in Madison. As Fire Chief, I am so proud of how these agencies, and the community, rallied around such a horrific event to restore peace and calm without any further injuries. All City of Madison residents should be proud of these dedicated public servants.

Chief Davis

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