UPDATED: Couple forced to flee their home after lightning strike
A terrified elderly couple were forced to flee their home after a bolt of lighting blew a hole in their roof.
Donald and Margaret Hart, both in their 70s, were about to have their tea at their home in Langholm Drive, Breightmet, when lightning struck the TV aerial on their chimney at 4.30pm on Saturday.
Mrs Hart said: “I was putting the tea on and, funnily enough, my husband had been in the living room watching rugby on TV and had gone towards the kitchen when there was a big bang.
“It’s a good job he wasn’t in the living room. He would have been cooked.
“We were very lucky that we have flame-resistant curtains or the house would have been on fire.”
She added: “The noise was like a bomb. It was a quick bang, but very loud. I couldn’t hear anything for five hours afterwards.
“I was standing over a gas cooker at the time and the flame rose so high. It was as though the house had risen and dropped.
“We have still not really taken in what’s happened.”
Firefighters worked in driving winds and heavy rain to cover a hole in the roof with plastic sheeting.
Mr and Mrs Hart were advised to leave the house as a safety precaution.
Mrs Hart said: “There was thick smoke in the living room and we couldn’t ring the fire brigade from the landline because the lightning had blown all the phones out, so we called from a mobile.”
Bricks from the chimney stack had fallen on to a car, smashing a headlight.
The lightning ripped through alarm, phone and electric wiring in the house.
It also affected the electricity supply to other homes in the street, and caused some televisions to go off.
Mr and Mrs Hart went to stay with neighbours following Saturday’s drama.
Their neighbour, who is an electrician, inspected their home, gave temporary rooftiles to the firefighters and the Harts a bed for the night.
Repairs to the house are expected to cost thousands of pounds.
Watch commander Paul Norris, from Bolton North first station, said: “In 22 years of being a fire officer I’ve never seen anything like it.
“I’m just relieved no-one was injured. The elderly couple who live at the house have been able to stay with neighbours.”
Mrs Hart added: “They were wonderful, the firefighters. There was all that rain and it was a really bad night for them to be out, and there were umpteen firefighters on the roof.”
The lightning strike also affected the house next door, although the residents were out enjoying a fireworks display in Drayton Manor, Staffordshire.
Catherine Leonard, aged 42, said: “I got a call from a relative who lives across the street and she said, ‘There’s nothing wrong, but the house has been hit by lightning. The fire brigade are here’.
“I thought it was an extremely bizarre call, but was just thankful no-one was injured. We came home on Saturday night.”
Ms Leonard, who has two children, Marcus aged 10 and Hannah, aged two, added: “The neighbours and the fire service have been fantastic. We’re lucky to live on such a nice street.”
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