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Strabane coffin firm is engulfed by flames after lightning strike  


Blaze: Large plumes of black smoke rise over Railway Street in Strabane

Blaze: Large plumes of black smoke rise over Railway Street in Strabane

Blaze: Large plumes of black smoke rise over Railway Street in Strabane

A coffin-maker’s business was set ablaze after being hit by lightning as extreme weather brought chaos to Northern Ireland yesterday.

A massive plume of black smoke billowed into the skies above Strabane after flames engulfed the premises.

Emergency services rushed to the scene as 80 firefighters and 14 fire appliances fought the blaze.

A section of the Co Tyrone town was cordoned off due to the fire at coffin-maker Charles O’Doherty & Sons Ltd, on the town’s Railway Street.

The fire service operation is expected to continue into today, with the public asked to stay away and keep windows and doors closed.

West Tyrone SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said there had been a “very loud” lightning strike in the area.

“The neighbours in the property next door were not at home as were others so thankfully no-one was injured,” he said.

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“At this moment in time our thoughts are with the O’Doherty family.

“This business spans over 100 years and three generations so this is a very difficult moment for them.”

On the north coast, Portstewart promenade had to be closed after heavy rain damaged the road.

The street had been packed with large crowds just minutes earlier and many had to abandon their cars as water surged up through the cracked tarmac.

The A4 road at Dungannon was also closed by flooding due to thunderstorms in the area, while Londonderry was also affected, with the Rossdowney Road also closed by a deluge of rain.

The eastbound M1 was closed for a short time due to a traffic collision.

Police said downpours in the area had affected visibility and made driving conditions difficult.

“Heavy localised rain is making driving conditions difficult and affecting visibility,” the PSNI said.

A Met Office forecaster said the sudden thunderstorms and floods were caused by a band of warm, wet air moving north across the British Isles.

Forecaster Simon Partridge told the Belfast Telegraph: “We’ve had an area of very moist air that’s moved north over Sunday.

“But the good news for Northern Ireland is that the worst of the heavy thundery weather is coming to an end,” he said.

“Monday and Tuesday will still see some further rain in Northern Ireland, but nothing on the scale of the downpours on Sunday.

“From Wednesday onwards, we will see drier and more settled conditions starting to come in, with temperatures moving into the low 20s Celsius.

“But nothing beautifully summery yet.”.

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