Two families had a lucky escape after fire broke out in their homes when they were hit by a lightning strike during an electrical storm.
The bolt smashed into the roof of the adjoining houses at 5am yesterday, setting insulation on fire and starting a blaze in their shared loft space.
Daniel and Amy Smith, and their next door neighbours Jeff and Lisa Watson, were in bed at the time and heard an “almighty bang”, but didn’t realise immediately that their homes had been hit.
Mr Smith got up to make sure that his windows were closed and then discovered that fire had broken out in his loft. He got his wife and two young children outside before tackling the blaze with pans of water from the kitchen.
Then he switched to using a garden hose to put water on it.
The fire had broken through to Mr and Mrs Watson’s loft, but Mr Smith managed to stop it from spreading to his other next door neighbour’s roof space.
He was eventually dragged away by fire crews who arrived to take over and put out the blaze.
Mr and Mrs Watson – whose son Jake, 12, said the lightning strike made his bed shake – were alerted by other neighbours that their loft was on fire.
Yesterday the two families, who live in South Shore, Blyth, Northumberland, were counting the cost of the incident. Several neighbouring properties were evacuated by firefighters as they checked for any further damage caused by the strike.
Roofer Mr Smith, 26, his wife, 23, their son Lewis, three, and six-week-old baby daughter Lara have lived there since March.
He said: ”The thunder was rumbling about 5am and woke my family up. My wife was telling me to shut the windows and then there was a massive bang.
“Amy went downstairs with the kids and I saw smoke coming from the window in the loft.
“I got them all outside, filled a pan with water, ran up into the loft and threw it on the fire.
“I then turned my hose on, took it up to the loft and started hosing the fire down. There were flames and smoke, but I managed to get it fairly under control. The fire brigade arrived, dragged me out and carried on.
“It has damaged the roof and our bedroom, where the carpets and beds have been ruined by soot and smoke.”
Mr Watson, 43, who works for the youth homelessness charity Depaul UK, and his wife, 42, who is part of a family-run online clothing company, were lying in bed when they heard an “almighty crash”.
She said: “The firefighters had to smash through the roof from the inside. I didn’t believe we’d been hit by lightning at first, but Jake said he felt his bed vibrate when it happened.”
Mr Watson said: ”We are quite fortunate to have escaped so lightly, and people have been saying we have been lucky and should get on the lottery.”
Three fire crews from West Hartford and Pegswood attended, and two firefighters wearing breathing equipment dealt with the blaze.
A fire service spokeswoman said: “Firefighters removed tiles from the roofs of the two houses, and also checked adjacent homes for damage and fire.
“The crews left at 9.25am but returned to make further checks for hotspots.”