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Possible lightning strike forces evacuation of Ponte Vedra Beach hotel

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Updated: 6/30/2013 7:22 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- A possible lightning strike forced the evacuation of a building at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.

The St. Johns County Fire Rescue received calls from the hotel around 3 p.m. on Sunday reporting smoke coming out of the roof of one of the buildings.

Fire crews had no choice but to tear a hole through the roof in order to find where the smoke was coming from.

"The fire posed a little bit of a challenge, the construction meant that the material that was burning was in a space between the roof and the attic space," Lt. Bob Snell, St. Johns Fire Rescue.

As crews worked to control the smoke, Riley and Joan Eggers looked on at what they say was the work of mother nature.

"We were in our unit which is two doors down and we had come in off of the beach and we're sitting there and we heard this loud boom," said Joan Eggers, Hotel Guest. "Lightning is really a great spectacle but unfortunately it has intended consequences sometimes," said Riley Eggers.

Ten of the 24 units were occupied at the time. Everyone was evacuated and no one was injured. About 20 people were relocated to other accommodations on the property.

According to Lieutenant Snell, much of the damage was contained to the roof and attic areas.

The Eggers, who traveled here from California for their yearly family reunion, say it's a part of their vacation they won't forget.

"It keeps everything in perspective," said Riley Eggers.

The fire marshal will be investigating to determine whether or not it was in fact a lightning strike. Hotel management says it is too early to determine how much it will cost to fix the damage.
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