Lightning strikes leave Essex families without homes

image captionAbout 60% of the timber framed detached property in Chelmsford was damaged by the fire

Two families have lost their homes after properties in Essex were struck by lightning.

The roof of a detached property at Barlows Reach, Chelmsford, was fully alight after being hit at 22:45 BST on Friday.

The roof collapsed in the blaze, which spread to the first floor through cavity walls. Nobody was injured.

Crews also attended a fire at two semi-detached bungalows in Holland-on-Sea at 04:25.

One of the properties was set alight by lightning leaving "a family of four homeless", said Essex Fire and Rescue Service.

The roof space of the second became heavily smoke logged.

A neighbour who saw the Chelmsford fire told BBC Essex the sound of the lightning strike was "like a bomb going off".

"We just heard the family screaming the house was on fire, but she [the mother] managed to get the children out.

"They were in bed when she found a piece of fire on the landing, something had fallen and then the loft collapsed. She just got everybody out thank goodness and everybody is safe."

Nobody from the family was available for comment.

image captionHeavy lightning storms made their way across the UK on Friday night

Forecaster and storm-chaser Chris Bell, from Norwich-based Weatherquest, warned more storms are on the way for East Anglia.

"We're expecting from late Saturday into Sunday for there to be lots of potential for thunderstorms across the region," he said.

"That could produce localised flooding on the roads, lots of lightning and you want to take that seriously.

"Lightning safety is something that's probably underestimated in this country, but if you can hear thunder you're close enough to be struck by lightning."

image captionNeighbours said the lightning strike sounded "like a bomb going off"

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