A driver hit a bicyclist before crashing into a building Wednesday in downtown La Crosse.

The driver, whose identity was not released, ran into a vacant building at 412 Main St., formerly occupied by Fat Sam’s Main Street Bistro, about 10:30 a.m., striking a gas line and prompting a temporary closure of the block.

“There was a substantial amount of gas coming out of the 1-inch line, creating a pretty flammable atmosphere,” said Lt. Shane Trussoni of the La Crosse Fire Department.

First responders treated the cyclist for minor injuries before shutting off the idling van and evacuating the area around the building. Once the scene was deemed safe, responders were able to dig the short distance into the ground to clamp the line and shut off the gas. Xcel Energy assisted with the controlling of the leak.

The block was re-opened in the afternoon.

According to La Crosse Police, the driver’s foot slipped off the brake as he was traveling south through the alley next to the former sandwich shop, which closed in June. The van was towed away.

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