A small blaze causes only minor damage to a cupola at the now-closed Jesse's Seafood House.
By JANE MEINHARDT
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000
SEMINOLE -- A lightning strike was blamed for igniting a small blaze Wednesday night at a landmark Seminole restaurant.
The fire at Jesse's Seafood House caused minor damage to a cupola at the rear of the restaurant, according to investigators.
A damage estimate had not been determined.
The restaurant at 10400 Park Blvd. has been closed and for sale since July 1998. The massive, Victorian-style building opened in 1986 along Long Bayou.
It was named after Seminole pioneer Jesse Johnson and owned by his descendants. Originally named Jesse's Landing, the restaurant had about 400 seats.
The fire was reported about 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Fire officials warned that recent thunderstorms are bringing dangerous lightning along with some welcome rain.
"We are starting to get that now," said Clearwater Deputy Fire Chief Charlie Flowers. "We haven't had rain in so long we tend to forget, but this is the time of year for lightning strikes. And lightning can do some strange things."
With up to 100-million volts of electricity, a lightning strike to a building can rip through roofs, explode brick and concrete walls and ignite fires.
In July, a fire gutted a Clearwater house on Dexter Drive that was hit by lightning. The family was not at home at the time.
Lightning safety experts warn that people need to take precautions inside their homes during storms.
When indoors, avoid using the telephone, taking a shower, washing dishes or making contact with conductive surfaces such as metal doors, pipes, sinks and faucets. Keep away from windows, doors and electrical appliances. Unplug computers and appliances before a lightning storm.
Protection systems are available for homes and other buildings.
They are designed to provide a path for lightning current to travel to the ground.