Microburst damages Cocoa Beach Pier, injuring 3

Winds in Cocoa Beach reach 60 mph

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

COCOA BEACH, Fla. - Three people were injured Thursday when strong wind gusts damaged the roof of a bar at the Cocoa Beach Pier, fire officials said.

The incident was caused by a microburst of strong weather around 3:15 p.m., with winds recorded at 50-60 mph, according to the National Weather Service. A microburst is a sudden, powerful air current.

Part of the roof and canopy at Pelican's Bar and Grill was blown off, officials with the Cocoa Beach Fire Department said. Some wiring was exposed because of the damage.

"It came from nowhere. We were just chilling under the pier and some lightning bolts and everyone started to shelter under the pier and in a couple of minutes, sand started going everywhere, the umbrella started flying, everyone took shelter under the pier," said Kevin Brongers, who was on the beach during the storm.

Three people with minor injures were treated at the scene. Officials did not say what type of injuries people had.

"The roof came off, hitting some people who were running. (They) didn't see it coming from the back and it was insane. It all happened so fast, maybe, two, three, four minutes," Brongers said.

"As a safety precaution, guests were evacuated and we closed the damaged areas to the public," read a statement on the Cocoa Beach Pier Facebook page. "Once we are able to fully assess the damage, we will provide an update on when the affected venues will reopen."

Officials from Brevard County Emergency Management posted a warning to Facebook shortly after the weather event reminding residents and visitors to "go indoors when thunder roars."

"It doesn't always take a hurricane or tornado to produce weather-related damage," the post read. "A microburst associated with a thunderstorm peeled back part of the Tiki bar roof and caused some minor injuries at the Cocoa Beach Pier this afternoon."

The pier is owned and operated by Orlando-based Westgate Resorts. The Orlando-based company purchased the pier in 2014.

The Cocoa Beach Board of Adjustment recently approved an expansion to the pier, which will include three amusement park rides.

The historic Cocoa Beach landmark opened in 1962.

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