NewsRegion South HillsboroughRiverview


Dozens of people without a home after lightning strike causes apartment fire in Riverview

Posted at 8:43 PM, Jun 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-15 09:07:38-04

RIVERVIEW, Fla. — Hillsborough County Fire Rescue officials say that a lightning strike caused a 2-alarm fire at an apartment complex in Riverview, displacing more than 100 people.

Around 7:41 p.m. Wednesday, crews responded to the Allegro Palm Apartments located at  5501 Legacy Crescent Place. 

Photos from the scene show dozens of residents outside of the apartment building as flames visibly penetrated the roof of the building. 

Smoke from the fire could be seen from U.S. 301. Families gathered outside of the building, and watched as the roof caved in. 

"Within minutes the whole roof, staircase completely falling down windows blowing," said Veronica Hernandez.


No injuries have been reported. Officials say the fire started on the roof and attic, spreading to another building and the apartment living areas below.

The fire was under control just before 9 p.m. Neighbors say they think it was caused by lightning.

"I heard the lightning strike, it sounded like a whip. I think I heard the thunder, but when it's happening you think oh that sounded close, but I didn't know it was that close," said Taurie Wilson, a resident at the apartment complex.

A total of 24 apartment units were damaged with more than 100 residents displaced.

"They've got nothing, nothing," said Hernandez, who says her sister and niece and nephew are now without a home. The young girl didn't even have shoes. "Everyone got out safe so that’s what we’re going with to kinda get his day by day to get us through."

Red Cross is currently assisting displaced families with food, shelter and clothing. 

Donations are being accepted at the clubhouse from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. this week. 

They're asking for essentials like underwear, socks, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes etc.

“I just hope these people can get back on their feet. It’s heartbreaking," said Kenda Wermuth. 

Wermuth, who grew up in Riverview, helped deliver enough donations Thursday to fill three carloads. 

“It’s about helping people who need help," said Wermuth. "We as a community have to stick together." 

ABC Action News has learned, Bootleggers Brewing Company is holding a donation drive for fire victims this week. 

Hair Cuttery is also offering fire victims a free shampoo and condition at four of their Hillsborough locations. 

Although two lightning strikes were reported in the area, fire officials have not ruled out other causes yet.