TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - A strong thunderstorm, with frequent lightning and gusty winds, impacted Tybee Island Saturday afternoon.
A bolt of lightning struck a home on Marsh Creek Cove between 4-4:15 p.m. Neighbors said they saw the lightning flash and immediately heard a loud crack of thunder. Shortly after, smoke was seen coming from the top of the home.
Emergency services were called within minutes of the lightning strike, and emergency crews arrived shortly after. Close cloud-to-ground lightning strikes continued, even as firefighters worked to put out the fire.
The home is a rental property. Fire damage occurred in the attic and portion of the second floor of the home. Smoke and water damage occurred throughout much of the structure.
One of the managing partners for the rental home says not only will it be a long rebuilding process, but it will affect business and those who stay there.
“I was actually here with two of my friends when we heard lightning strike and jumped, and it was really scary. We knew it was close, but we didn’t know how close,” said Brooke Yarbrough, who lives nearby.
Yarbrough and her friends were enjoying what they thought would be a nice girl’s weekend when the vacation home next door to them went up in flames.
“I ran to get the other friends at the beach. One friend called 911 because she heard the alarm going off and smelled smoke, and when I came back around with the other three ladies, there was fire," Yarbrough said.
She says they rent out the nearby vacation home every summer, but this time will definitely be one to remember.
“We were having a great time. We were kind of in shock, incrementally as another fire truck would roll up and another one would roll up. It took awhile for it to set in that girls weekend was over."
Tybee Fire Department says due to the difficulty reaching the fire and the stifling temperatures, surrounding departments were called in to help including Savannah and Chatham County EMS.
“It will be out of commission for the remainder of the summer. There was some significant damage due to the fact that they had to take the hoses up through the house."
Tybee Beach Vacation Rentals Managing Partner Keith Gay Jr. says they commend local EMS and firefighters for getting the fire under control before it got any worse.
“Unfortunately, it does affect. It’s a popular house. A lot of folks like to come back. We’ve had some repeat renters come back and try to move around, but fortunately we have a little over 200 properties we manage, so we’re doing our best to facilitate moves and accommodate people who were going to stay in that house," Gay said.
Gay says there is extensive water and structural damage, so trying to find other partners on the island for people is their main concern.
"Usually, we’ve got it booked every week for June and July, so June and July are our typical peek months, so we do have quite of bit of stuff that’s quite a bit over inventory that’s booked solid, so we’re really making a strong effort to make sure that we have a place to try to move people.”
Luckily, no one was home at the time of the fire.