Fire Chief Sean Major (right) watches as Matt Stevens, of Ladder 25, gets ready to climb down the ladder after searching the roof for further damage. Photo by Paige Wilson

Lightning strikes Pine Lake Apartments, causing small structure fire

No injuries were reported during the Aug. 12 incident.
By: 
Aug. 12, 2018

Lightning struck building 10 of the Pine Lake Apartments in Palm Coast on the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 12.

Six minutes after receiving a potential structure fire call at 1:02 p.m., several Palm Coast Fire Department engines were on the scene as the storm continued. 

Matt Stevens, of Ladder 25, climbs down a ladder after searching the roof of building 10 for further damages as the rain continues. Photo by Paige Wilson

Palm Coast Fire Chief Sean Major said a strike to the roof of the building caused the lightning to follow the path of least resistance to the ground — in this case through a plumbing vent.

“We think that the lightning hit one of the plumbing vents, then it worked its way down and it smoldered for a little while and burned inside the walls, so we had to go into the various units, open up walls so we can isolate the source of the fire,” Major said. “Eventually, we found it in one of the bathrooms in one of the units, opened up a big area, was able to pull the sheetrock out and extinguish the fire before it spread to the rest of the building.”

Major added that they evacuated the building as soon as they determined there was a fire. The crews waited to send a firefighter up on the roof until the lightning was at bay, as the conditions were hazardous when engines arrived.

“It became apparent once we were on scene that there was going to be a fire inside one of the walls,” he said. “The hard part was just finding where it was.”

Patrick Juliano, public information officer for the department, said four units sustained damaged, some from the fire itself and other damage from the search for the fire.

“We’re just going through ventilating, trying to clear the smoke that’s going through the rest of the units,” Major said around 3 p.m. as crews were packed up. “We’re working with the official from the building, the super, and he’s going around and making sure that the units that sustained some damage from us trying to find the fire can get repaired and that the people can get back into their homes as quickly as possible.”

There are no reported injuries, though the building does not have power, as of 4:50 p.m. The Red Cross' Disaster Action Team was dispatched to the apartments that afternoon to help with replacing prescriptions, glasses and medical equipment to those in need, said Janice Moran, regional communications manager for the American Red Cross of Central Florida. The team will also assess lodging, emotional support and additional health services needs.