Lightning strike causes fire and gas leak, neighborhood evacuated


by Tiffany Shepherd
by Matt Doyle

MILWAUKEE-- Officials said that an overnight lightning strike is to blame for a fire and gas leak.

"It was the loudest crack of thunder I've ever heard."

"It was pretty aggressive, kind of shook my house."

A rude wake-up call for many on a quiet northwest Milwaukee street.

 "I mean it woke both my wife and I up from a dead sleep," Jeff Bishop said. "The whole house shook."

"I was on my computer in my bedroom," Blake Cvengros said. "Which is right here right next to the where the gas line blew up. I just kind of felt it and heard it and had to comprehend what it was for a minute."

Lighting hit a large tree. The surge went down through the tree and started a fire near the corner of a house.

"Came outside, saw the flames, went back in and grabbed my phone and called the fire department," Cvengros said.

It was so powerful it ruptured an underground gas line.

"I started to walk up to the door and the flames were still pretty aggressive and you could smell a lot of gas."

"You could smell the gas big time when we came out of the house," Bishop said.

A potential recipe for disaster - natural gas leaking and flames burning. The fire department controlled the flames fast and evacuated nearby homes.

"Got the pets, put on some clothes and got out," Cheryl Kaestner said.

"We got a knock on the door from the police and had us come out because of the gas leak," Bishop said.

WE Energies worked through the night to contain the leak. 

Residents were back in their homes after 3 am - still thinking about the close call.

"Being able to see the actual flash and the energy for that split second was kind of cool," Cvengros said.  "But not cool at all either but you know just interesting how close it was."

The family that lives in the home declined comment but did say they are doing fine and staying in a hotel for now.

The home sustained and estimated $3,500 worth of damage.


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