The roof of an apartment complex in the Carrollwood area caught fire Monday afternoon after a lightning strike, firefighters say.
Flames broke out and quickly spread across the top of the Grande Oasis Apartments on Key Royal Lane. That's off Himes Avenue just south of Busch Blvd.
Heavy smoke was visible for miles.
Fire rescue crews say everyone got out of the complex.
Eighteen out of 24 units were damaged, and more than 50 people were forced out of their homes.
"When I walked towards it, I'm like wow the flames is on top of my building," said resident Sal Gul.
Gul's apartment is one of the 18 that are considered a total loss after this two-alarm fire.
The whole building had to be evacuated; everyone made it out ok.
"We did have everything we built in there," Gul said.
"There was loud boom, loud bang," said Neil Robinson.
That bang was likely the sound of a bolt of lightning -- fire-rescue officials say that's what turned the Grand Oasis into a grand mess.
"It was wild. Just the sound was intense," Robinson said.
While others scrambled to safety, maintenance man Neil Robinson and an officer ran in to help a dog trapped inside one of the apartments.
It was an adrenaline-fueled rescue.
"It sounded like a jet engine outside the wall, sounded like the wall was going to explode," he said.
Even hours after the largest flames were extinguished, firefighters were still dousing hot spots with hoses.
"It's a three- story building. The structure is wood frame, which is always dangerous," said spokesperson Ronnie Rivera.
The Red Cross is helping those affected.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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