Lightning strikes Lexington tree, igniting gas line underneath

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lightning from a round of slow-moving storms hit a tree and the gas line underneath it, sparking a fire in a Lexington neighborhood.

Until Columbia Gas arrived on the scene to turn off the gas line, flames were shooting into the air in the neighborhood on Rockbridge Road off Tates Creek Road.

"We just kept the tree from catching on fire and waited on Columbia Gas to arrive, " said Major William Saunooke, with the Lexington Fire Department. "If you put the fire out, then you've just got a great big huge gas leak to deal with, so it's much safer just to let it burn as long as it's not gonna destroy anything."

Neighbors and officials on scene say the flames reached 20 to 25 feet, burning the tree it struck.

"I was sitting on my couch inside, and I heard this really big crack of lightning, so I ran out from to check," said Glen Krebs, who lives on Rockbridge Drive. "There was a big fire coming out ,and it didn't look like it was burning the tree. It was just a little bit to the right, so I ran over there and knocked on there door and made sure nobody was home."

Crews say they expect to be on scene into the evening, working on that gas line break.

Also, a nearby home was hit by lightning but sustained minimal damage, according to WKYT's crew on the scene.

WKYT Chief Meteorologist Chris Bailey says as the storms moved through the Lexington metro area Monday afternoon, they generated between 200 and 300 lightning strikes every 15 minutes.

"Rounds of showers and thunderstorms continue to rumble across central and eastern Kentucky," said Bailey. "This action will continue into the overnight and into Tuesday. We continue to see an atmosphere loaded with moisture and these storms are creating torrential rains. This may cause additional high water issues for some."

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