LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Lightning may have caused a tree fire early Sunday morning, according to the La Crosse Fire Department.
Firefighters got the call around 2:37 a.m. and found a tree on the northeast corner of 9th and Ferry Streets in flames burning around 50 feet high, said Division Chief Mark Amann.
Amann said the fire was fed by a broken natural gas line about three feet underground.
Crews cooled the tree but needed to wait until Xcel Energy clamped two gas lines before they put out the flames.
"The worst thing we can do in that case is put the fire out – stop the fire totally – because the natural gas is still leaking and releasing into the air. It's going to look for an ignition source, it's going to go into a home," Amann said.
The second gas line was clamped around 5:30 a.m.
Firefighters said they used gas meters to check the neighboring house and manholes to make sure natural gas did not spread.
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