Man treated by paramedics after lightning strike causes fire at flats in Winston Close, Felixstowe

The flat that was damaged when a bolt of lightning struck Rowland House in Felixstowe. Picture: ARCH

The flat that was damaged when a bolt of lightning struck Rowland House in Felixstowe. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Neighbours ran to help rescue residents of a retirement home after a bolt of lightning struck the building and caused a fire in a flat in Felixstowe.

Residents from 30 flats had to be evacuated from Rowland House. Picture: ARCHANT

Residents from 30 flats had to be evacuated from Rowland House. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

More than 40 people at Rowland House, Winston Close, had to be evacuated as firefighters dealt with the incident during the storm in the early hours of today.

One man – believed to be aged in his 30s – had to be treated by paramedics at the scene after inhaling smoke, but was not taken to hospital.

Tenants were asked to leave their apartments while firefighters checked the site to make sure the flames had not spread.

The lightning struck the corner of the first-floor of the block of flats at around 4.30am.


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Hearing the massive bang, two men ran from houses opposite the block of 30 flats to raise the alarm – and tried to put out the flames with fire extinguishers.

Kim Ward, who lives opposite Rowland House, said the storm had been rumbling on for some time when she and her husband David had heard “one great big clap of thunder above us”.

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She said: “David looked out of the window and saw the flat was on fire in the corner. We rang the fire brigade immediately but I think a few people had already done that, too.

“Then we saw two neighbours run out of their houses and go over to the flats to tell people to get out. We understand there was a woman on her own in the flat and she had been asleep and they got her out.

“We heard they used fire extinguishers that were in the building until the fire service took over and put a hose in.

“I think the woman was very lucky – it sounded like a strike which could do some real damage.

“There is a really good community spirit here and the men who went over showed that.”

A spokesman for Sanctuary Housing, which manages the flats, said: “The fire service was immediately notified and fire officers quickly dealt with a small fire in one of the flats, while our on-site scheme manager helped evacuate residents to the communal foyer to ensure they were safe.

“Residents returned to their flats less than an hour later. In total, two flats have suffered damage, but thankfully no residents were injured in this incident.

“Surveyors and contractors will be at the property today (Wednesday) to carry out safety checks and assess the damage to the building.”

Three fire crews – two from Felixstowe and one from Ipswich East – attended the incident.

The lightning was part of an intense storm which swept over Suffolk and north Essex around 4am this morning.

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