Homeless man accused of setting railroad ties on fire in La Crosse

Witness saw man standing by himself near smoking pile of railroad tires

A homeless man is accused of starting a pile of railroad ties on fire in La Crosse on Friday evening.

A woman walking on a trail near County B saw a man standing near a pile of railroad ties, according to a criminal complaint. Smoke started to come from the pile near the Canadian Pacific railroad tracks and the man, later identified by police as Todd W. Limestahl, did not walk away from the pile.

Limestahl told police he was just watching kayakers going by on the river and denied knowing anything about a fire or seeing it, the complaint states. Limestahl said he was on hte bike trail about 15 minutes before the officer talked to him and he was inthe area of the entrance of County B. The suspect told police he was homeless and was staying in the area of downtown.

A police officer found a book of matches in Limestahl’s duffle bag.

La Crosse firefighters said the ties were all soaked with the flammable material creosote. There was no easy access for their trucks so the equipment couldn’t get closer than 600 feet.

A La Crosse County judge set a $1,000 signature bond for Limestahl on Monday afternoon.