Belfast Telegraph

Lightning 'probable cause' of Northern Ireland house fire

First time long-serving fire fighter dealt with incident of its kind

By Jonny Bell

Lightning is thought to be the probable cause of a Northern Ireland house fire.

The blaze broke out on the roof of the Downpatrick home on Kingsfield Avenue at 6am on Friday.

Both the roof and the property's living room were damaged in the fire, as too was a neighbouring home.

Four people - a grandfather, his son and his two teenage children - were in the home at the time. They managed to escape unharmed, as did the two people in the neighbouring property.

There were no reports of any injuries.

The fire service arrived on the scene just after the outbreak and remained until just before 8am.

Downpatrick station commander Chris McLoughlin told the Belfast Telegraph lightning was thought to be the most likely cause. There was a thunder storm across the area through the night.

He said it was the first time in his near two-decade long service that he had to deal with a fire thought caused by lightning.

"There is no difference in the nature," he said, "We make a risk assessment and deal with it as quickly as possible to bring it under control.

He added: "We were alerted at 6.07am and arrived soon after to a developing fire on the roof with local crews from Downpatrick and one from Ballynahinch.

"We have determined the cause to be accidental with lightning the probable cause."

The fire fighter highlighted how working smoke alarms helped alert the family to the danger and get them out safely.

More: Video: 'Freak' weather leads to multiple road collisions in Northern Ireland

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