Lightning sparked a two-alarm fire at a Carrollwood apartment complex Monday afternoon, causing heavy damage to 18 of the 24 units in the three-story building and forcing more than 50 residents from their homes.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesman Ronnie Rivera said the department received several 911 calls about 3:45 p.m. regarding the fire at the Grande Oasis of Carrollwood, 8699 Key Royale Lane.
“Firefighters arrived and saw flames and smoke coming through the roof,” he said. “A second alarm was sent because of the size of the building and because there may have been a number of people who were trapped in the three-story building.”
Tampa Fire Rescue firefighters also responded to battle the blaze, Rivera said.
With the help of Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies, everyone was evacuated, Rivera said. The Tampa Bay chapter of the American Red Cross was there to help people find temporary homes and provide them with clothes and food, he said.
Firefighters entered the building and rescued two dogs, he said. The blaze was brought under control within an hour, he said, though at one point fire crews were forced to evacuate the burning structure because of the intensity of the blaze in the floors above them. From that point on, ladder trucks were used to extinguish the fire from overhead.
The cause of the blaze was lightning from a passing thunderstorm, he said.
“There was a storm that went through here and lightning struck the building,” Rivera said. “A maintenance person in a golf cart said he heard a big bang and saw heavy smoke. It was a lightning strike that caused the fire.”
Fire investigators say the blaze caused an estimate $800,000 damage, Rivera said.
Nobody was injured.
“Even though we lost 16 (apartment) units,” Rivera said, “nobody died in the fire or got hurt, and we stopped it from spreading to other buildings.