• House fire likely sparked by bolt of lightning, officials say

    By: Jason Kelly, Ken Tyndall and James Tutten, WFTV.com

    Updated:

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - An upscale 5,000-square-foot home near Windermere is a total loss after it was engulfed by a massive blaze.

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    Orange County firefighters were called to battle the massive fire after 4:33 p.m. Thursday on Butler Bay Court in Orange County.

    Firefighters said the family that lives at the home was gone and no one was hurt.

    Officials are still looking into the cause and said it appears the fire was started by lightning.

    Neighbors said they heard a loud lightning strike and the flames started to spread quickly.

    "I heard the loudest boom of a lightning strike I’ve ever heard,” said neighbor Dave Skebba. “Within a minute, I heard firetrucks come by.”

    The homeowner, with his dog, was seen being escorted to the scene, where he saw the destruction for the first time.

    "They're in shock, understandably, as anybody would be in this situation,” said Carrie Proudfit, with Orange County Fire Rescue. “But they are grateful to first responders here on the scene, and they're grateful that they're not hurt or worse."

    Firefighters trucked in water and foam to put out the blaze and ran a hose from the nearest fire hydrant, which is outside the neighborhood gates.

    "We just went there,” said worker Tony Silva. “We saw a lot of smoking, then we see the house get on fire."

    Neighbors said it's devasting for the homeowners and the neighborhood.

    “Within minutes, the house was gone,” Skebba said. “That was a major bolt, a lot of heat. Those flames happened within four or five minutes of the lightning strike."

    Orange County firefighters said they worked quickly, despite having the complication of having to snake the fire hose through the streets, but they were still unable to save the home.

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