Lightning cited as cause of Orlando resort fire

No one injured in massive blaze at Avanti Resort

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orange County Fire Rescue battled a fire that broke out at the Avanti Resort after one of its buildings was struck by lightning Sunday.

[PHOTOS:  Lightning sets Orlando resort ablaze | RAW VIDEO:  Sky 6 over resort]

The 500-room resort, located on International Drive near the Orlando Eye in the tourist district of the city, was evacuated, but no injuries were reported.

"(It was) pouring rain, (and) we heard really bad clashes of lightning," Avanti Resort guest Crystal Myer said.  "One was really bad and sounded really close, and we, like, jumped."

Smoke began pouring out of the hotel, which was filled with guests, and flames could be seen miles away.

"I think our room was the first one to cave in (and) collapse," said Ian Anderson, who was staying at the resort with his girlfriend.  "We managed to save passports and money, but we lost two weeks worth of clothes."

The 144-room building was evacuated as firefighters went floor to floor clearing the building.  Investigators said it appears lightning struck the center of the fourth floor of the building.

"With this fire being as aggressive as it was, it was amazing that no one was injured," a fire official said.

While lightning is believed to have sparked the fire, the State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the exact cause.

All guests staying in the building affected by the fire were relocated to another room on property or another hotel.

Avanti Resort in Orlando.
Avanti Resort in Orlando.

Avanti released a statement on Monday, saying:

"On Sunday, July 5th at approximately 6 P.M. fire was reported at one of Avanti's four hotel buildings. The cause of the fire is reported to be lightning. Fire was extinguished from all divisions at approximately 8:00 P.M.

"We would like to thank everyone who expressed their concerns regarding this unfortunate incident. All of our guests are safe with no injuries sustained, and have been accommodated. Thank you to the Police Department and especially, the Fire Department for their quick response and their ability to contain the fire to one building. The hotel's amenities, public facilities, and three out of the four buildings are operational. All guests have been assisted however, this will be an ongoing process for today.

"Thank you once again for your concern and well-wishes from the management and staff at the Avanti Resort and Paramount Hospitality Management."

Stay with Local 6 News and ClickOrlando.com for updates on this developing story.