NORTH LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Fire crews returned to the scene of Player Place Townhomes to inspect what was left of the homes that went up in flames after a series of lightning strikes over the weekend.
North Lauderdale and Tamarac Fire Rescue units responded to the scene of the blaze at the two-story building, near the 2000 block of Winners Circle, Sunday afternoon.
Three lightning strikes sparked a fire at the townhouse building in North Lauderdale, causing extensive roof damage and left at least eight people displaced, city officials said.
Officials also said multiple bolts of lightning struck the roofs of multiple townhomes at around 2:45 p.m., igniting the fire and causing the roofs to cave in.
“Lightning strikes started the fire. According to some of the deputies, there were three lightning strikes that hit the house almost at the same time,” said North Lauderdale City Manager Mike Sargis. “When fire rescue arrived, they noticed that there was fire on the roof.”
Several residents — like Sara Riley, her husband and her three kids — are now temporarily displaced, as they came back to find their cat and pick up their car.
“We are going to be looking after we return the car, to see where we can stay for the week and take it from there,” Riley said.
John and Donna McCully also tried to salvage what they could. They own the unit that sustained the bulk of the roof damage.
Donna said her life has been turned upside down.
“I feel like my entire life has been destroyed right now,” she said.
The McCullys said they were not home at the time of the lightning strikes, but their two dogs and two cats were inside when the unit caught fire.
“I was not allowed in. The firefighters eventually – they were waiting in case the roof was going to collapse, and thankfully they were able to rescue them,” said John.
One of their cats, who was initially in bad shape, is doing better, but their yellow Labrador is very sick.
Homeowner Sabine Baptiste said she also lost everything. She broke down in tears as she grappled with the magnitude of the destruction.
“Everything’s gone. It took me a minute to hit me, but it’s just all gone,” she said.
Cellphone video provided to 7News captured crews putting out the flames, as thick smoke billowed from the structure.
“[I lost] valuable stuff, like photos upstairs. I have books in there, like computers, laptops, work equipment, memories,” Baptiste said.
At around 5 p.m., 7News cameras captured three large holes in the roof of the building.
“There are two [units] that appear to be totally damaged; there are two that appear to be severely damaged,” said Sargis.
Although no lives were lost, it’s the necessities they’re desperately in need of the most.
“I don’t know what to do right now, it’s a mess in the house, smoke everywhere. There’s water everywhere,” Riley said.
The American Red Cross planned on helping out some of those affected in this incident, but some people are still in need of basic necessities.
Donna’s sister has created a GoFundMe page to help the family. If you would like to make a donation, click here.
Baptiste also created a GoFundMe page for herself and her roommate. If you would like to make a donation, click here.
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