JFRD: Lightning hits gas line at Baymeadows shopping plaza


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Lightning hit a gas line at the plaza of Baymeadows Junction on the city’s Southside early Wednesday evening, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said.

The lightning strike caused some fire damage to the ceiling of Sake Sushi, which is located in the shopping center at the corner of Philips Highway and Baymeadows Road.

Firefighters said they put out the small fire and turned off the gas, which affected neighboring businesses, including La Nopalera Mexican Restaurant.

Lorena Valencia, manager of La Nopalera, told News4Jax that, without gas, nearly everything on the menu could not be prepared, and food they could serve had to be heated up in a microwave.

The restaurant manager said they were up front with customers about what happened.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and this is the first time this has happened to me. So I was shocked when they told me what was going on next door,” Valencia said. “I had to talk to all our customers and let them know, so they could understand why it was taking so long for food to be prepped.”

The manager also acknowledged that it could have been a different situation had firefighters not arrived in time. 

“We’re extremely lucky to still be here standing,” Valencia said. “It was a miracle that nothing else happened to the rest of the building or anyone in the building. 

No injuries were reported. The gas company responded to Baymeadows Junction and turned the gas back on about 7 p.m.

Sake Sushi was closed for the remainder of the evening. The manager told News4Jax that she was unsure whether the restaurant would reopen Thursday. She also said there were no customers inside when the first started.

Chief Meteorologist John Gaughan said the incident was associated with a big round of storms in Duval County that produced winds up to 55 mph, 2 inches of rain and thousands of lightning strikes.

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