Lightning damaged two residences in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties on Wednesday leaving residents and neighbors shaken. There were no reported injuries.
In Clearwater, lightning struck the front of a house in the 1400 block of Citrus Street. The strike charred the facade, and blew off the doorbell and address plate.
The tenant of the house grabbed fire extinguisher and an ax when he was alerted to the strike.
"I broke through the plastic to put out the fire, and it didn't take long," said the tenant, who did not want to give his name.
"My wife called the fire department, but it was out by the time they arrived," he said.
The family had noticed a storm was coming and was able to protect the appliances inside.
"We had unplugged all of our appliances in the house, that's what we usually do before lightning," he said.
And he gives thanks for his wife alerting him to the lightning strike.
"I'm lucky having a wife who notices smoke in cases like this more than I do," he said.
Neighbors said they were scared when they heard the thunder and lightning strike. "There's usually a pause between the flash and thunder. This was boom, instantaneous and done in a fraction of a second," said one neighbor.
The other strike was early Wednesday at an apartment complex behind University Mall. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue responded to University Club Apartments, at 12702 University Club Drive, where eight units were evacuated. "As soon as the powerful lightning strike was heard - 20 minutes later, smoke," security said.
"We are sitting in the office. They are not answering questions, or telling information," said one resident.