Lightning bolt causes garage blaze

A GARAGE has caught fire today after being struck by a bolt of lightning.The garage on West Mill Green, Bentley, was hit at about 9.10am.

A LIGHTNING strike spread mayhem through a village street near Ipswich today - as it ripped through houses and buildings and sent residents cowering for cover.

As storms raged around Suffolk the brunt of it was borne by Bentley where hero pensioner Michael Anderton leapt into action - battling a fire and finding his way through the smoke to turn off a gas pipe which the lightning had blown a hole in.

The former Evening Star columnist grabbed a fire extinguisher from his car when he spotted smoke coming through to his garage from his neighbour after the strike caused an electric surge to hit three houses in West Mill Green.

The lightning first hit Bernard Berry's shed at number 28, following an electric cable through to the utility room and summer house, blowing out the sockets in his house.

Then the electric surge went through to Mr Anderton's house at number 26 knocking out his power before hitting next door's house where an elderly lady lived, scaring her so much that paramedics were called when she complained of chest pain.

Mr Anderton, 70, who is a former bomb disposal expert said: “It's frightening something like this could happen so instantly. It could easily have killed us.

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“You expect thunderstorms but it was like a bomb going off.”

The drama unfolded at around 9.30am when the lightning struck Mr Berry's shed, creating the electrical surge.

Mr Berry said: “I heard an almighty bang and saw the smoke going up in the air. I stood there waiting for the flames but it just kept smoking.”

And it was the smoke pouring from his neighbour's garage that alerted Mr Anderton to the possible devastation that could be imminent.

After shouting to his wife to dial 999, he ran to get his fire extinguisher but found it did not work, so he ran to his car to get another one.

His initial efforts were thwarted when he tried to get through the front of the garage but the electric doors did not work so he ran round to the back of the house and put the flames out from there.

He said: “I came through the back door of the garage and saw there was a fire around the mains.

“The next problem was the gas pouring out, I crept in and managed to open the garage door to let the gas out. Then I managed to pull the gas lever down to cut the gas supply.”

Fire crews were called to the road to make the area safe.

Staff from EDF Energy were expected on site for most of the morning to repair the damaged electric supply.

Were you affected by the storms? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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