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HIALEAH (CBSMiami) — Cleanup efforts are underway at a Hialeah condominium complex that caught fire.
Investigators and residents believe a huge lightning bolt sparked the fire on the roof of the complex at 5400 W. 21st Court Wednesday, severely damaging it and leaving more than a dozen people displaced.
“We are 99 percent sure it was an electrical strike to the roof,” said Capt. Cesar Espinosa.
Hialeah firefighters were on scene in six minutes but could not stop severe damage to four units.
Oscar Robles paid off his condo, in which he’s lived for 22 years.
“I’m coming back, yeah. I’m hoping they’re gonna fix it real soon,” Robles told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.
It was a massive challenge as the fire spread quickly across the apartments on the top floor, which share a common attic.
“About 3:45 I heard a lot of lightning. Ten minutes later, I saw the smoke,” said Oscar Velesquez.
Residents swung into action, helping firefighters evacuate the apartments.
“We started evacuating as soon as possible. I put on the fire alarm and I rushed everyone out,” said Esteban Torrens.
Rafael Anaya rushed home when he got a frantic call from his mother in law, that the fire broke out while she was in the home with his two toddlers.
In Spanish, he told Zea that he was a little nervous until he found out they were okay. He says there’s nothing more important in this world.
Fortunately nobody was hurt, though one lady was treated for shortness of breath.
Four apartment units were heavily damaged.
“I knew that we were going to lose everything,” said Yeomy Barrera.
Fire, smoke and water damage took it all, leaving a total of 16 people without a home.
It’s a stark reminder that Florida is the lightning strike capital of the United States.