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Neighbors donate to help family after Nocatee house fire

Home a charred shell after fire witnesses say started from lightning strike

NOCATEE, Fla. – The community came together Tuesday to help neighbors in need after a Nocatee home went up in flames Monday night as severe weather moved through the area.

Neighbors and witnesses said they are certain a lightning strike caused the fire on Paradise Valley Drive.

St. Johns County Fire Rescue said the cause is still under investigation but no one was hurt in the blaze.

Neighbors described the ordeal as “traumatic.” Many of those neighbors -- and the homeowner -- rushed to call 911 when the fire started.

LISTEN: 911 caller reports flames through roof

The family was left without a home after the house was gutted by the flames, leaving only a charred shell.

“It’s just so heartbreaking for a family to have to go through that,” said Kristin Lunsford, who stopped at the home Tuesday with donations.

Lunsford lives in Ponte Vedra Beach and said that when she heard about what happened, she knew she needed to help.

“I just cleaned out my closet, knowing I had extra stuff that I could pass on to other people, so, I’m here to share,” Lunsford said.

Lunsford dropped off men’s and women’s clothing and shoes, saying her own children were upset by what these complete strangers were going through.

Lunsford said she hopes her donations will be a small step toward helping the family get back on its feet.

“I just hope it gives them a little time to recover and not have to worry about these little things, and they can focus on more important things that they need to recover and not the material possessions that they lost,” Lunsford said.

Lightning protection

While it's impossible to control Mother Nature, experts say there are steps homeowners can take to protect their homes from lightning strikes.

The National Fire Protection Association points out that lightning strikes are most common duyring the months of June, July and August.

They encourage homeowners to install surge protectors in their homes and to remember to unplug electronics during severe weather.

They say computers are some of the most vulnerable electronics to strikes, so be sure to back up important files and photos regularly.