Published: 00:00, 19 July 2014
| Updated: 11:32, 19 July 2014
An elderly couple had to be rescued and several homes have been damaged after devastating storms hit Kent.
Dramatic pictures have revealed the aftermath of the lightning strikes across the county.
Fire crews were called to South Street, Whitstable at 3.30am after neighbours saw flames coming from the bungalow of Erica and Peter Reynolds.
Neighbours Sharon and Malcolm Browning, who live in a bungalow opposite, were the first to act after they heard the loud crack of the lightning bolt.
Mrs Browning said: “I heard the bang above and saw the light flash. I thought it was behind the house. I got up to make a cup of tea, and looked out the window.
“I could see flames coming from the roof, so I dialled the fire brigade and then went over there with Malcolm.”
Four fire engines were called to battle the flames. Mr Browning said: “You could feel the heat coming from across the road.
“The flames started at the back of the bungalow and took hold so quickly. Ten minutes after the flash and the fire was raging.”
A Bobbing man says he and his wife are “lucky to be alive” after escaping from a fire at their home started by a lightning strike this morning.
The blaze caused extensive damage to Tony and Tracy Jeffrey’s house in Keycoll Hill, Bobbing, destroying the first floor, as an electrical storm swept across Kent last night.
A bolt of lightning struck near the chimney at around 3.30am and flames quickly spread through the property.
The couple managed to flee through the front door as neighbours rallied round to help.
Mr Jeffrey said: “It might have been the aerial [which was hit by lightning] but it’s just impossible to tell.
“The house immediately caught fire. The top floor was on fire absolutely in seconds. As soon as it hit the house was in blackness.”
Crews were also called to Maidstone Road, Lenham after hearing reports that a roof had caught alight.
In total four engines were sent and spent several hours at the scene.
They also had to use a fan to clear a smoke filled room of an adjoining property.
The Wood family’s roof was 80 per cent destroyed by the bolt and housing provider Golding Homes have told them they cannot find alternative accommodation until Monday.
The situation could have been much worse - the family, which included two young boys aged three and two, were standing outside their Maidstone Road home in a semi circle watching the storm and had a bolt land inches in the middle of them.
Robyn Wood, 59, said: “I don’t want to think about what could have happened to my grandchildren, the main thing is no one was hurt.
“When I realised what had happened I went into a state of shock. I started shouting, shaking and feeling really ill.
“We were outside watching the lightning and thunder when all of a sudden this bolt landed in between us. A fork from the same bolt hit the aerial on the roof."