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Windermere Observer Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2019 2 months ago

Windermere Club home set ablaze

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The house went up in flames following a suspected lightning strike.
by: Hannah Swayze News Editor

A Windermere family’s home is a “total loss” after what fire officials suspected was a lightning strike last week. 

At around 4:30 p.m. Friday, July 18, Orange County Fire Rescue Department received reports of a possible lightning strike and fire in the Windermere Club neighborhood. 

Fifteen units responded to the home at 12891 Butler Bay Court, where they reported seeing flames on the backside of the home and smoke coming from the attic. Neighbors gathered outside to watch the scene unfold. 

Dave Skebba, a neighbor who lives six houses down the street, said he was on the phone when he heard a loud boom, which he assumed was a lightning strike. 

“It sounded like a bomb,” Skebba said.

Carrie Proudfit, a public information officer for OCFRD, said the department does suspect a lightning strike was the cause of the fire in the home, because of multiple reports of lightning in the area at the time. 

“The good news is that all of the homeowners are accounted for,” Proudfit said on the scene on Friday. 

She said OCFRD has had several reports of lightning strikes leading to fires in the county. 

“We always want to remind homeowners (not to) underestimate a lightning strike,” Proudfit said. “If you think your home was struck by lightning, get out, call 911, get to safety (and) let us get out here.”

The home was confirmed to be that of the Jordan family by a family friend, Dena O’Malley. She said the family of five had just left for vacation when they received the call about their home. 

Before the fire was even out, the small community stepped up to support the family, half of whom had already left on vacation. Before the day was over, community members started several projects to help support their neighbors, including a GoFundMe page, a lemonade stand and a pizza fundraiser to help prepare the family for the approaching school year.

The community raised more than $6,800, exceeding a goal of $4,000 in just three days.

While the home was destroyed, O’Malley said the family did recover a few sentimental items from the wreckage on Saturday, including a wedding video, a home video of the oldest son as a baby and other irreplaceable items like a vintage nativity scene. 

Along with O’Malley, members of the community are planning an event in support of the Jordan family from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, at BurgerFi in The Grove, located on the corner of Apopka-Vineland and Conroy Windermere roads. A portion of the proceeds from that night will be donated to the family. 

O’Malley said the Jordans plan on attending the event for part of the night, so neighbors will have the opportunity to offer encouragement and support. 

“I think they need support in trying to figure out what’s next,” O’Malley said.

Hannah Swayze is the News Editor at the West Orange Times & Observer and Windermere Observer. She is former staff writer of the Johnson City Press in Johnson City, Tennessee. She is a graduate of East Tennessee State University where she earned a bachelor's degree in media...

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