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Elderly man left without home after fire sparks in Golden Gate Estates

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An elderly man is without a home after a fire, possibly sparked by lightning, destroyed his house Thursday afternoon.

The home is located on Randall Boulevard in Golden Gate Estates.

Robert Valeo was fast asleep in his bedroom when his house caught fire.

“I smelled something and he did too and it smelled like smoke and as soon as we opened it we noticed the entire living room was totally engulfed in smoke,” Valeo said.

The call came in during an intense thunderstorm. Valeo, along with the other person living in the home, were able to get out of the structure on their own, but it wasn’t easy.

Valeo had to leave his walker behind.

Firefighters couldn’t say exactly what caused the fire, but they think it was weather-related.

“It’s hard to say. We’ve had a lot of lightning strikes before this. We had a call for lightning strikes in Esplanade and that call came in, so we’ve had a lot of lightning,” said battalion Chief Al Duffy.

“We think it was lightning. Someone said there was wires in the attic that may have something to do with it,” Valeo added.

The inside of the residence was left destroyed. The two men living there will now have to find another place to stay. But Valeo says he’s lucky he’s leaving with his life.

“I have nothing besides what I’m wearing and it’s wet and we don’t know what’s going to be salvageable,” Valeo added.

Additionally, the Red Cross came to help the two residents find a place to stay.

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