ST. PETERSBURG — William Wallace looked out to his backyard Tuesday morning and saw a mass of clouds.
He thought it was fog.
Then he realized the smoke was coming from inside his home, 1338 Monticello Blvd. N.
Firefighters arrived about 11:15 a.m. The attic was engulfed.
"We pulled up and couldn't even see the house, it was so smoky," said Lt. Joel Granata, spokesman for St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue.
Wallace, 85, and his wife Sally, 82, who served on the St. Petersburg City Council from 1976 to 1985, got out safely.
The couple told authorities they heard a loud bang during Monday's stormy weather, and speculated that the 2,400-square-foot home, which has a fair market value of $243,539, may have been hit by lightning and was smoldering all night.
Late Tuesday, investigators confirmed lightning was the cause. Granata said authorities found evidence that heat from the lightning caught the roof tresses on fire.
Firefighters had to tear down parts of the ceiling to prevent the fire from spreading. It caused about $25,000 in damage.
The Wallaces are staying with family, officials said.