INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Firefighters battled a condo fire that broke out on the roof of a three-story beachside condominium building in south county around 2 p.m. Thursday.
Indian River County Fire Rescue Bureau Chief Richard Marini said the last fire engine left the complex at 9 p.m., but the property was checked throughout the night for potential flare ups.
He said there were no injuries among residents or fire personnel.
Smoke billowed from the top of the southeast building of the u-shaped Southwinds complex in the 2200 block of North Southwinds Drive off State Road A1A.
Marini said the building was evacuated and he anticipated 15 to 20 people were affected.
“We’ve still got an active fire going on,” said Marini before 5 p.m. Thursday. “It’s in the roof.”
He said the construction of the building with a 3-foot concrete barrier between the roof and the attic made it difficult to extinguish.
Firefighters were only able to extinguish the fire externally from the roof where it began and spread through the building's attic area under the thick layer of concrete.
"We actually had a fire 15 years ago in another building out there," he said.
That experience, he said, provided a guide for approaching Thursday's fire.
A plume of black smoke could be seen from the Alma Lee Loy Bridge at 3:30 p.m. and grey smoke spread over miles of neighborhoods north of the complex while several residents made their way as close as they could to the restricted access complex.
Marini said 10 to 12 fire engines and units were at the site.
A severe storm with heavy lightning rolled through the area around the same time the fire was reported.
A state fire marshal investigation is underway, but Marini said the suspected cause was "likely lightning."
The fire was reported by a resident, but Marini said because many of the condo residents are seasonal, it was not fully occupied.
"There's water damage and smoke damage in almost all 15 units," Marini said.
He classified the damage as "major" and said residents from the only two occupied units were permanently displaced.
Corey Arwood is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm. Follow Corey on Twitter @coreyarwood, or reach him by phone at 772-978-2246.
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Condo fire: Firefighters battle blaze at Southwinds condos Indian River County