Thomas Diaz said he only went to the hardware store Friday afternoon and was gone briefly.
But while he was away, a thunderstorm erupted over Spring Hill and, according to what he later heard from neighbors, lightning struck his home at 1420 Deering Ave., just east of the Spring Hill Drive and Mariner Boulevard intersection.
Spring Hill Fire Rescue crews rushed to the scene, but in the end most of the ranch home was gutted, making the Diaz home unlivable.
"I was beside myself," Diaz said Saturday afternoon as he and family members cleared away any possessions that could be saved from inside the smoke-damaged residence. "I just moved here not too long ago."
Severe thunderstorms rolled through the area after 5 p.m. and the lightning was believed to start the blaze that firefighters believe started in the garage. An investigation remains under way to confirm the cause.
Diaz lived in the home with his girlfriend and two children, none of whom were home at the time.
The blaze intensified and was quickly consumed, pretty much gutting the inside.
Diaz said the fire also wrecked his 2006 Chrysler 300 parked by the garage.
Diaz and his family will be staying with father Thomas Diaz Sr. while repairs to the home continue.
Diaz Sr. said he was just thankful nobody was hurt.
"One moment and your house is in flames — unbelievable," the father said. "Nobody should have to go through tragedy like this."