Lightning sparks Dunedin condo fire

- Initially, Charles Java had no idea lightning had struck his condo building just before 1 o’clock Monday afternoon.

"I just heard a lightning crack. It didn't seem like it hit the building," Java recalled. "The alarms started going off, I just kept looking outside until everybody else started making a move."

The National Weather Service confirmed lightning was the cause for the fire at Country Lakes Condo in Dunedin.

"I knew it was close, so that's why I walked outside," said another resident, Bill Dibble. "I looked up and I seen on the roof, there was a lot of smoke coming out so I went around and got as many people out as I could."

Two condos were severely damaged. All 30 units of the building had to be evacuated.

Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor and Largo's fire departments all responded to the fire, which started in the attic of the three-story complex. Attic fires, according to Dunedin Chief Jeffrey Parks, make it difficult for response teams to find where the fire started.

"You know, someone has a kitchen fire, it's very easy to get to a kitchen fire; we know where it is," Chief Parks explained. "With the attic, it's very hard initially where the fire is and how far it's extended before we get here. So, lightning's a whole different animal."

Two firefighters were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, while all residents safely evacuated. The Red Cross is assisting those residents whose condos were damaged.
 

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