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9/11 charity pays off mortgage of Wis. firefighter killed in explosion

Sun Prairie Firefighter Cory Barr was killed while evacuating people from a gas leak in 2018

By Emilie Heidemann
The Wisconsin State Journal

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. — A New York-based charity announced Tuesday it has paid off the mortgage of a Sun Prairie Fire Department volunteer captain who died while trying to evacuate people during a gas main explosion in the city’s downtown in 2018.

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Cory Barr started his firefighter career at 18, becoming the youngest member in the Sun Prairie Fire Department’s history, and was honored as Firefighter of the Year in 2017.

In July 2018, he was a 15-year veteran of the fire department when he was killed in an explosion while helping evacuate people near a natural gas leak. The explosion in downtown Sun Prairie leveled or severely damaged several businesses and homes.

Barr is survived by his wife, Abby Barr, and their twin daughters.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation paid off the Barr family’s mortgage through its Fallen First Responder Program.

The charity was formed after 9/11 with the mission to provide mortgage-free homes to fallen first responders’ families with young children and build houses for injured veterans and public safety officials. It also aims to eradicate homelessness for veterans.

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“Captain Barr spent his life helping others; in his final moments he put himself at risk to get others to safety,” Frank Siller, Tunnel to Towers Foundation CEO, said in a statement. “Tunnel to Towers honors his service and sacrifice this Independence Day by ensuring Abby and his twins can stay in the home where they shared so many memories.”

“I am beyond proud to be the surviving wife of Cory James Barr,” Abby Barr said in a statement. “He is the reason I am who I am today and the reason I have two beautiful daughters. The help from Tunnel to Towers makes our situation a lot less stressful. My goal in life is to give my daughters the best life possible and, with help from Tunnel to Towers, I can do that.”

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Along the 500-mile trek from the Pentagon to Shanksville to New York City, I share Stephen’s story and the Tunnel to Towers message