PHOTOS: Lightning strike blows up transformer on Fifth Avenue South

A surge from a lightning strike blew up a transformer behind the Colonnade on 5th Wednesday afternoon, sending a fireball into the building’s breezeway and shutting down several businesses for the day.

The lightning struck a pole hundreds of feet behind the Colonnade, 600 Fifth Avenue South, during an intense storm around 3:15 p.m., Naples Fire Chief Steve McInerny said. Naples firefighters were on scene by 3:19 p.m.

"The lightning surge traveled underground to this three-phase transformer box, and it blew this box apart," McInerny said. "It exploded from the inside out."

The explosion shook the building, and was heard about five blocks away, McInerny said. Firefighters were faced with heavy smoke and flames.

A fireball blasted through the Colonnade’s breezeway, but because of the rain, nobody was in the breezeway at the time.

"Had the storm been approaching or just departing, and there wasn’t associated rain, somebody could have been seriously injured," McInerny said.

Firefighters had to wait for a Florida Power and Light worker to arrive at the scene to turn off the power before they were able to hose the box down with foam. Eight Naples firefighters were joined on scene by Naples police officers.

Damage was estimated at $10,000, McInerny said.

Businesses in the Colonnade, including Chico’s and Huntington Bank, were closed for the day while an FPL official worked to restore power.

"It looks like a bomb exploded in this box," McInerny said.

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