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Lightning strike burns home, displaces veteran family

Family asking for community's help
Posted at 6:56 PM, Jul 23, 2017

A Pasco County family is homeless and in desperate need of help after a lightning strike burned their home. In a matter of just 10 minutes the Arana family's home became unrecognizable. The roof exposed, the second floor charred and the rest of the home severely damaged due to smoke and water.

“It was just like 'boom' massive destruction," described Luis Arana, an Army veteran and homeowner.

A bolt set the roof and the children’s rooms on fire Saturday morning.

“His memories are just gone, his trophies are gone, his basketball trophies are gone," he said of his son's belongings, "It’s just dust up there.”

The timing is cruel. The family not only finding out they’re expecting another child, but they just celebrated the year anniversary of moving into the house. Arana says as a retired and disabled veteran, he doesn't have a lot to go on every month. 

“And that hurts the most but what can we do except push forward," he said of the loss.

The breakfast food they were about to eat when lightning first struck is still untouched on the dining room table. The home declared not livable. Luis Arana says his family is safe staying at a relative’s house but his children are frightened. 

“Now they hear lightning and they are scared and they don’t know what to do and they are like ‘dad is it going to happen again?’” he said.

Despite this one in a million chance accident robbing the Aranas of their home, they’re staying positive.

“I mean I just want to get my hands into it and start rebuilding somehow someway cleaning this up and make it presentable so I can bring my kids back to the house.”

If you'd like to help out the family -- Doug Wood, a Clearwater Fire & Rescue Firefighter, set up a donation site at the County Walk Clubhouse. It's located at 30400 Country Point Blvd in Wesley Chapel. They are open during the week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The family is hoping for gift cards to help them pay for basic living needs and groceries. They say clothing for their children will also help:

Girl 14-16, shoe size 3.
Boy 32 pants/shorts, shirt L, shoe 6 1/2.
Boy 30-32 pants, shoes 7.
Basketball shorts for boys size L.