Lightning strikes cause damage to 2 Bay Area homes

- A family’s home was damaged Wednesday after lightning struck their roof, catching it on fire. To make matters worse, they moved into the house just three weeks before.

Tarp covered the roof of the home in Hillsborough County, and neighbors were scratching their heads, wondering how severe weather struck before summer even began.

Hugh Alexander and his neighbors on Zamia Loop woke up to the sound of a lightning strike.

"There was a really loud bang, a pow, and we assumed that it was lighting. We thought it hit on the pond that's here in the neighborhood," Alexander recalled of the sound lightning made when it hit his neighbor’s house.

He quickly realized his new neighbors’ roof had caught on fire.

"It was really scary. We were worried about them, wanted to make sure they got out of the house safe, and they have two children," Alexander said.

The family of four was ok, despite their stroke of bad luck.

The same storm also sent a lightning strike into a home in Pasco County. The attic of the house on Brantford Drive in Westchase caught fire, but everyone got out safely there, too.

It's the kind of the weather many expect to see during a Florida summer, but not in may. FOX 13 Chief Meteorologist Paul Dellegatto said the severity of the storms seen Wednesday is rare.

"This is more July, August, September, and to have it in early May, and to have it at 6 to 9 o'clock in the morning, you get that maybe once every five to ten years," Dellegatto said. "We were counting, in some cases, over 750 strikes in 15 minutes. I think, overall, there were probably 2-3,000 total. That's a lot."

He added the best thing to do in a thunderstorm is to get out of its way. No place outside is safe, and if you're indoors, avoid direct contact with anything that's plugged in.

Neighbors of the homes hit by lightning said it's frightening to see that sometimes, your safe shelter, just isn't safe enough.

"It's Mother Nature, what can you do? There's no way to avoid this," Alexander said.

Firefighters were able to contain the flames to the top of both homes, so there was not much structural damage. An alarm alerted one of the families to what was happening.

Firefighters said now is the time to make sure you have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

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