Belfast Telegraph

Lightning strike Northern Ireland families' lucky escape

By Brett Campbell

A Co Down family were left terrified after their home was hit by a "massive explosion" during lightning storms on Tuesday night.

Brenda Higgins had put her young son to bed when her house in Katesbridge was struck by lightning.

The lightning bolt caused a hole in the roof space of the property.

The mother said she had just put the five-year-old to bed when their house was suddenly shook by what she described as a "massive explosion".

Her eldest son also had a lucky escape when the lightning bolt hit his bedroom minutes after he had left it.

"I was in bed about five or 10 minutes and heard this massive bang," she told the BBC.

"From the room, I could see the orange glow of a fire from the other bedroom - thankfully the rain put it out.

"My son was very lucky as he had been in the bedroom about half-an-hour beforehand.

"He had gone downstairs to watch TV when the lightning struck.

"My husband jumped out of bed and my two youngest boys, aged five and 13, were distraught.

"I got the younger children out of the house when I realised part of the roof was off."

The lightening strike also caused plugs to blow off the wall.

"We've called the insurance company to assess the damage, but we'll not be in the house tonight," she said.

Brenda, a classroom assistant, and her family are staying with relatives until investigations into the extent of the damage are completed.

She added: "There is debris everywhere and we have no electricity. I don't know how long we will be out of the house, but the main thing is that we are all OK and no one was hurt."

Meanwhile, another Co Down family also described their terror after believing a "bomb had gone off" when their house was struck by lightning. Gareth McGreevy was watching television with his parents in their home on Drumnaconagher Road, between Crossgar and Ballynahinch, when they heard a loud bang that forced them to evacuate.

"We were watching television waiting on the Rose of Tralee result and there was suddenly a massive explosion," he explained.

"A phone flew off the wall - it was like a bomb had gone off.

"There was an eerie silence and you could smell the burning."

Mr McGreevy described the unlucky strike, which severely damaged the roof of the house and caused lights to fall off the ceiling, as "terrifying". "We didn't realise that the roof had been struck until about 15 minutes later when we had a walk around and saw all the debris," he explained.

The roof of the property now has three holes in it after the tiles were blown to "smithereens".

His sister's car also suffered a few bumps after debris fell on top of it.

The family were left in the dark after the lightning knocked out the power.

He added: "It was terrifying. It was a surreal experience, and something I'd hate for anyone to go through."

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