Three lightning strikes take toll in bay area, two dogs die in fire caused by one lightning hit

Lightning strikes caused heavy damage in three different locations in the Tampa Bay area on Wednesday.
 
In Holiday, a home at 5240 Eagle Drive took a direct lightning hit around 10:15 a.m., causing it to catch fire, according to a preliminary investigation by Pasco Fire Rescue.
 
No one was injured but two dogs died in the fire.
 
"They were good puppies," said Bill Stevens, homeowner.  "That's the worst part of it."
 
The family was at work when Mother Nature struck.  Their Boxer Pugsley and Greyhound Echo were trapped inside the home.  Fire crews tried giving the dogs CPR but it did not work.
 
"The house can be rebuilt, everything in it can be replaced.  I am not worried about that but I'll never have those two again.  They were my babies," Stevens said while crying.
 
The home was a total loss.
 
The family has lived in the home for 30 years and says they will rebuild.  They have insurance.  Red Cross volunteers did come out and help the family, but declined help finding shelter.  Instead, the family plans on staying with relatives in the area.
 
Their dogs will be cremated later today.
 
In Tampa, lightning struck the roof of an apartment building at 12731 University Club Drive around 11:45 a.m.
 
Flames and smoke were visible when firefighters arrived.
 
There was no report of injuries. Emergency officials and the Red Cross were assisting those displaced by the fire.
 
Earlier Wednesday morning, around 1 a.m., a lightning bolt caused severe damage to a home on Citrus Street in Clearwater, blowing off the home's siding and doorbell at 1450 Citrus Street.
 
According to Clearwater Fire Rescue, the homeowners were awake when it happened and the strike left them very scared.  They were not hurt.
 
"Strange, I still cannot explain it," said Vasileios Mitelouid, who rents the home with his wife.  "How can lightning go through the trees and strike here."
 
Metal parts flew off of the home, including the siding, doorbell and address numbers.
 
Neighbor Joseph Gafa told ABC Action News the strike was too close for comfort.
 
"I jumped three or four feet off my couch," said Gafa.
 
Gafa says he did not realize at the time that his neighbor's house was struck by lightning.  Instead, when he saw fire trucks arrive, he thought there was some sort of medical emergency.
 
"I am glad they are OK," he said.
 
Mitelouid told ABC Action News his landlord and insurance agents are accessing the damage later this evening.
 
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