Storm brings rain, flooding to Central Florida

Severe thunderstorm warnings issued in Central Florida


ORLANDO, Fla. – Orange County firefighters say a lightning strike started a fire at a home on River Ridge Drive on Wednesday evening.

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Francisco Valentine said he, his wife and his dog were in the home when it caught fire and they all made it out safely.

Valentine said he was working on a table and his wife was in the kitchen cooking when they heard a loud bang.

"It was two thumps, like bump bump, and that was it. It put me back in military time," said Valentine.

Valentine went into the garage and smelled smoke, so he checked the attic but didn't see anything. He said then when he checked the attic on the second floor, he actually saw the fire and called 911 immediately.

"It's ironic because as soon as I called them there was no smoke outside. Not even 5 minutes later, just black smoke started to come out," Valentine said.

Valentine said he moved both cars out of the garage and waited for firefighters to arrive. Within minutes about 20 firefighters had the fire under control, but the second floor and roof of the home has severe damage.

"It's crazy. You see it happening and you see it on the news, it happens a lot to others. But when it happens to you it's different, you feel empty inside," said Valentine.

Valentine said five years ago he had a brush with mother nature when lightning struck a palm tree in the backyard but his home escaped any damage. This time, the couple was forced out and will be staying with family until restoration repairs are done.

Meanwhile, Lake County authorities said a tree crashed through the roof of a house on Sullivan Road in Clermont because of high winds. No one was injured inside of the home.

Central Florida forecast

Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued and later lifted in Marion, Osceola, Brevard, Polk and Sumter counties by the National Weather Service on Wednesday afternoon. A flood warning was also issued in Marion and Polk counties.

Significant weather advisories were also issued throughout Central Florida for high winds and hail potential.

Overnight lows will be in the low 70s.

"A squall line in the Florida Panhandle will move into Central Florida, increasing rain chances to 60 percent for Friday and 50 percent for Saturday," Bridges said.

The highs on Friday and Saturday will be 86 and 83, respectively.

Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for 26 Florida Panhandle and north Florida counties that have been hard-hit by torrential rain.

Scott issued the proclamation early Wednesday and mobilized the Florida National Guard to help.

The Florida Highway Patrol says one person died in Pensacola late Tuesday. Officials in Escambia County say many were stranded in their cars and people climbed to the attics of their homes waiting to be rescued.

Parts of Interstate 10 north of Pensacola were also closed on Wednesday.

The National Guard is sending high-wheeled vehicles to Pensacola on Wednesday to assist with rescues.

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