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Staplehurst: Lightning strike wakes Chapel Lane residents in early hours

Residents of a quiet cul de sac got a nasty wake up call in the early hours of Monday morning.

Many of those who live on Chapel Lane in Staplehurst were sleeping as a storm the size of Wales raged over their heads.

But when a bolt of lightning struck one of the houses in the lane, setting the roof alight, many woke up.

Picture: Martin Knibbs
Picture: Martin Knibbs

One man, who lives over the road from the house that was hit, described the sound.

"It was like a shotgun going off in your bedroom," he said.

"Just by chance my partner was up watching the storm, and she saw it happen. Sparks were flying off the roof.

"Because it was dark you couldn't see much for a while, but you got the sense there was smoke there.

"The fire service was here within about 20 minutes, but I don't think it was a proper fire so much as smouldering and smoke.

Picture: Martin Knibbs
Picture: Martin Knibbs

"From what they brought out it looked like bits of roof insulation were smouldering, so I think they were controlling the potential fire rather than putting one out."

The fire service were alerted after the woman who lives in the house smelt smoke. Sixteen firemen were sent to make the house safe.

Neighbours rushed to help, with one family taking the lady in while the crews worked to check the fire was extinguished. One neighbour, Martin Knibbs, captured the moment fire engines flooded into the street to take action.

Residents were left without phone connection after the fire, with lines reinstated yesterday.

As many as 40,000 lightning strikes hit northern France in two hours before the storm started spiralling towards the county.

It also caused a fire in Folkestone, where a home was set alight after a bolt struck a TV aerial.

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