The La Crosse Fire Department says lightning may have caused a tree to catch fire around 2:30 Sunday morning on 9th and Ferry Streets.
When crews arrived on scene, they found a mature tree burning with flames more than 50-feet in the air. Firefighters say the fire was fed by a broken gas line.
Crews cooled the tree and surrounded the area until Xcel Energy crews could find and clamp off the 2-inch gas lines. The Fire Department says the natural gas line was fed from two directions and both lines were more than 3-feet deep. The second gas line was clamped off at about 5:30 a.m.
"We cool exposures during a natural gas fire until the gas can be stopped, rather than putting the fire out," said La Crosse Fire Division Chief Jeff Murphy. "The natural gas is then controlled and not released into the neighborhood."