Bolt of lightning sets Stourbridge homes alight

A lightning bolt struck two houses in a Stourbridge street – causing a major roof fire and leaving many residents without telephones or electricity.

People living in Oakfield Road in Wollescote have spoken of a flash followed by a huge bang, the ground shaking and cars vibrating on the road following the lightning strike on Saturday afternoon.

The lightning first hit Dave and Sonia Simmonds’ home, before striking the roof of a semi-detached home three doors down and causing a major fire in the roof at about 2.40pm.

It is believed a family, who live in the second house struck by lightning were away in Great Yarmouth – but a woman was inside and was treated for smoke inhalation.

A mother and her two children in an attached house were evacuated. They had only moved in six months ago, but are now being housed in a hotel, neighbours say.

Mr and Mrs Simmonds were shopping at Aldi when they heard the lightning strike. Minutes later, Mr Simmonds’ friend called him to say his house had been struck.

“We heard it while in the shop, everyone did, then my mate called me up to tell me he saw the lightning come down on my house,” the 55-year-old retired firefighter said.

“We drove back and saw the smoke coming up from the street, we turned in and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the house on fire.

“We were lucky it just hit our aerial and took the cabling down.”

However, many of the couple’s electrical appliances have been broken by the lightning including their two televisions, DVD player, Xbox game console and central heating boiler.

Mr Simmonds said: “We just feel lucky – it could have been much worse.”

More than 20 firefighters attended Oakfield Road. They used hydraulic cranes to tackle the fire from the property’s first floor, leaving five hours later. Yesterday, the house was gutted with a hole in the roof and its windows blackened.

The lightning also struck a house in Sedgley, causing an electric supply meter to explode.

Meanwhile, the steeple at the Catholic St Michael and the Holy Angels Church in High Street, West Bromwich, was struck by lightning.

A wooden floor inside the building was set alight after its steeple was struck by lightning.

A metal Christmas decoration had been leaning against lead framed windows and conducted the electricity from the lightning – sparking the flames.

Watch commander Phillip Richards said it was lucky someone had been inside the building at the time and if it had gone unnoticed then it could have become much more serious.