Four houses destroyed by fire and lightning as the weekend’s thunderstorms wrecked havoc across Britain
Four homes have been destroyed by lightning and razed by fire as thunderstorms bulldozed their way across the country this weekend.
The homes were either damaged directly by bolts of lightning or set on fire by lightning strikes on Saturday and Sunday.
Remarkably, all the homes were empty when the fires and lightning struck.
Two families away on holiday had a miraculous escape when their Gloucestershire homes were destroyed in separate lightning strikes.
Emergency services dealing with the fallout from the thunderstorms arrived to find both homes had been hit on the roof.
One of the houses, in Hardwicke, was struck in the early hours of Saturday morning, with the lightning bolt destroying the roof and falling debris crushing a nearby Honda Jazz.
Craig Smith, a neighbour, said: ‘I saw an almighty flash and mortar flying up in the air. They are a lovely family and they’ll be gutted when they get home.
‘I’m just glad they weren’t home when it all happened. It happened so close to our house that I just can’t fathom it.’
Another neighbour said she felt the earth shake and heard the car alarm go off and the owner of the car shout ‘oh my god’ when the bolt struck.
Twenty miles away, in Ampney Crucis, near Cirencester, a house was struck on Saturday afternoon as the huge storm swept across the Cotswold.
The bolt, as well as destroying the roof, started a major fire in the upper levels of the house, which destroyed the loft and gutted the upper floors.
Meanwhile, a bungalow in Solihull, West Midlands, was completed gutted by a fire sparked by a bolt of lightning and fueled by a burst radiator in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Taking to their Twitter account, Solihull Fire said the intense heat caused a radiator to explode forcing crews to withdraw for safety.
‘This is the danger crews faced when entering in breathing apparatus to fight the fire & search the property. Intense heat caused explosion forcing crews to withdraw for safety, later found to be this radiator on the 1st floor.’
A neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, said one of the firefighters said they believed it was caused by a lightning strike.
‘We don’t see what else it could be because the property is empty so nobody would have been there.’
In South Yorkshire, forks of lightning rained down on a family home, engulfing it in fire early Saturday evening.
A neighbour said: ‘I saw it all happen. It took about fifteen minutes from when the lightning hit for the house to catch on fire.
‘I’ve never witnessed anything like it. I got in and I thought “wow that was close”. There was an almighty blue ball of flash and we started rushing around the house turning everything off.
‘What people didn’t see was the terror on people’s faces. There was just a huge bang and the blue flash was unbelievable. I’ve not seen anything like it in my life and I’ve done a lot of travelling in my time.
‘The emergency services actually went in and rescued the goldfish. The whole fire crew were absolutely fantastic and everyone in the street worked together.’
Homeowner Richard Lowe said the family were still coming to terms with the damage.
‘I’m still in shock,” he said.’But no one has been hurt and things can be replaced. Family will be putting us up.’
The stormy weather caused travel disruption at London’s Heathrow Airport on Saturday as airlines were forced to cancel 20 per cent of flights for a two-hour period, while up to 1.2in (30mm) an hour fell in some places – more than the average monthly rainfall for the whole of July.
It comes after a heatwave struck the country late last week, causing tropical-like thunderstorms that brought the heavy rainfall and flooding.