At least 8 people hit by lightning in Clearwater Beach

Incident happened near Frenchy's Rockaway Grill

CLEARWATER, Fla – At least  eight people are injured after lightning struck Clearwater Beach on Sunday afternoon, according to fire rescue officials.

One man in his 40s was directly hit by the strike, the Clearwater Fire Department says. He went into cardiac arrest and is in critical condition at Morton Plant Hospital.

At least four others are being transported to area hospitals for treatment, with at least one suffering from burns. Officials say three others refused transport.

It happened around 12:42 p.m. in the beach area behind Frenchy's Rockaway Grill.

The extent of additional injuries is unknown at this time.

"Beachgoers should take cover and go to a safe place when lightning and thunder are present. As a reminder, Clearwater Fire and Rescue uses the phrase: when you hear the roar, go indoor," the fire department says.

Officials say lifeguards at the beach left their towers around 12:30 p.m. due to bad weather, minutes before the 911 call came in for the strike.