RIVERVIEW, Fla.— Lightning is thought to have sparked a fire that burned an apartment complex near U.S. 301 in Riverview Wednesday night.
While investigators say the exact cause is technically still under investigation, they believe lightning struck the roof of one of the buildings at the Allegro Palm apartment complex at 4401 Legacy Crescent Place around 7:40 p.m. -- leading to the fire that rapidly spread to a second building.
Wilma Roman wasn't home when the blaze started but got a frantic call from her 13-year-old. She lives at the complex with her fiance, two children, two grandchildren and three dogs.
"I'm seeing it burn and I'm thinking, god, how did this happen?" Roman said. "It's everything we worked for in there."
Roman, her family and her dogs stayed in a nearby Motel 6 last night and have yet to be allowed near their building to see if anything can be salvaged. But she said she's thankful no one was injured or killed because of the fire.
"My family is alive, so I'm going to work hard to replace all that I lost," she said.
Hillsborough County Fire and Rescue responded to find flames shooting through the roof. The apartments were quickly evacuated, and crews worked to extinguish the fire. It briefly rekindled at 4 a.m. Thursday but was quickly under control again.
Nobody was hurt in the fire, but 24 units were damaged and more than 100 people were displaced, according to officials. The Red Cross is helping them find places to stay.
First responders say two lightning strikes were reported in the area around the time of the fire. And, residents said they heard thunder that shook the building right before the fire began.
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