Historic stilt house off coast of Pasco County catches fire after being struck by lightning

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — A historic stilt house, one of 9 in the Gulf off the coast of Pasco County, is barely standing after it was struck by lightning. The house caught fire and Pasco County Fire rescue boated out to battle the flames.

"Yeah it’s sad for sure,” said Erik Suojanen, who brought ABC Action News out to look at what’s left of the American Flag Stilt house. 

"There was always activity here every weekend, kids all over the place,” he said. But on Saturday, "it was a ball of flames.” 

Related: Well known stilt home in Pasco County catches fire after a lightning strike

Soujanen and his wife were about 300 yards from the house an hour before it was hit by lightning, "The clouds started coming and you could start seeing the lightning popping,” he said.

The stilt houses are tourist hot spots. Soujanen owns Gill Dawn Marina and takes folks out on boat tours to see them nearly every day. A few decades ago, it was also an escape for a very famous musician and his wife.

"Johnny Cash and June Carter would come out here with Reverend Billy Graham to escape the frame, they had a house in Port Richey on the water,” he said.

The house is still smoking but the community already wants to rebuild it and local business are putting in pledges to donate supplies to put it back together. 

 “It’s just something that people are really drawn to,” he said.

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