Lightning hits home, major damage avoided

Apollo Beach, Florida -- A man's quick-thinking decision to listen to his wife may have saved his home from burning to the ground.

A powerful, booming lightning strike Tuesday night shook the entire block on Star Shell Drive in Apollo Beach.

"The thunder was so loud, you could literally feel it, like, rumbling in your chest. It was that strong," homeowner David Mendoza said.

People came out of their houses, looked around, and didn't see any damage.

But the lightning had surged through the attic of Mendoza's house. Firefighters say it was riding the electrical wiring and other utilities inside the wall.

The extraordinary energy from the lightning heated up all of that metal and secretly sparked a fire.

And what Mendoza did next may have saved his whole house.

"As soon as he smelled smoke, he decided to call us," said Hillsborough County Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Steve Diamond.

"His wife said, 'Don't do anything -- call 911.' And he decided his wife was right."

Fire crews were there in five minutes and went right to work.

The fire did torch one wall of the house, but firefighters put it right out.

Diamond says if the fire had gone on, unnoticed, for just a few more minutes, it could have gotten ahold of much more of Mendoza's home.

That's the lesson here: If you hear a bolt like that, watch, listen, and smell for any hidden fire that may follow.

David Mendoza's hero wife and two kids spent the night with friends. The power will be out at the house until sometime Wednesday, when an electrician can make sure all of the wiring is safe.


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