Brandon man helps neighbors evacuate after home catches fire twice following storm

Chris Koudela’s neighbor’s house in Brandon burned down overnight, believed to be the result of a lightning strike, Hillsborough County fire officials believe. In fact, the home caught fire twice within 12 hours.

"Just a terrible situation," Koudela told FOX 13.

It started around 7:30 p.m. Monday when firefighters first responded to the home in the 400 block of Van Reed Manor Drive. They said there were three people inside, including an elderly man and a woman.

Koudela knew they needed help and didn't hesitate.

"It was just…get them out, the house is on fire," he recalled. "Luckily, I had a fire extinguisher. Thank God they’re safe."

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With everyone accounted for, firefighters stayed on the scene until just before midnight. Fire crews said, although they had the fire under control within 15 minutes, they stayed hours later to spray water and cool off materials involved in the fire.

But, they were called back again Monday morning when the flames returned.

"Approximately 75% of the house was damaged by fire water and smoke, but there's much more extensive structural damage from this morning’s fire," said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Lead Fire Investigator David Tucker.

Fire officials warn the region is heading into thunderstorm season, where strikes like this become more prevalent. Unfortunately, not everyone can have neighbors like Koudela.

"Just doing what I needed to do. You see a situation like that, you got to handle it," he said.

There were no reported injuries and the cause of both fires remains under investigation.