'I rescued my son after lightning set fire to our home'

By Joanne Macaulay
BBC Scotland news

Published
image captionKerry Quinn said it was terrifying how quickly the fire took hold

A mother has told how she rescued her teenage son after a lightning strike set fire to her home during a thundersnow storm.

Kerry Quinn, 51, said she heard a bang, all the lights went out and the smoke alarms went off at her house in the Craigentinny area of Edinburgh.

She felt her way upstairs in the dark to reach her son, who was sleeping in bed, before taking him out to safety.

The lightning caused a huge fire which has left their house uninhabitable.

She said: "Every piece of common sense that you've got just kicks in and I knew that I had to get up the stairs to Kieran.

"The important thing was just us two getting out. Once we were outside and safe it was horrific and terrifying to see and realise how quickly the fire had taken hold."

image copyrightKerry Quinn
image captionKerry Quinn with her sons Lewis and Kieran

The lightning struck the roof next to Ms Quinn's two sons' bedrooms, which are built into the eaves of the property, at about 01:30 on 5 December.

Fourteen-year-old Kieran was in bed and her other son Lewis, 20, was out at the time.

The fire ripped around the side of the house and up through the roof.

The ceilings in the upstairs bedrooms have been destroyed, and blue tarpaulins still cover a hole in the roof.

The kitchen and bathroom downstairs were also damaged, and the family have been unable to live in their home since the fire.

Ms Quinn said: "Never in a million years would I ever have thought that it could happen to me or us.

"It feels really surreal because there's nothing different about our house in the street.

"We were just unlucky, but I feel very, very lucky that we are here to tell the tale."

The incident took place the day after another thundersnow storm had struck Scotland. The weather phenomenon is similar to summer storms, but with snow instead of rain.

The family know they have had a lucky escape.

Ms Quinn was not in bed when the lightning struck because she had toothache.

"You do think about what if I had been in bed? The fire crews have said the fact that I was awake and alert saved time in getting up the stairs to Kieran.

"I've had dreams about not making it up the stairs, even though I know I did."

Work to rebuild the house is due to start soon, and the roof is due to be removed in the next few weeks.

The family are not expected to be able to return home until the end of the year.

Neighbours have set up a GoFundMe page for them.

Ms Quinn added that the community had been extremely supportive.

Lewis said said the incident had made him more vigilant about fire safety.

"I no longer charge or leave plugs in overnight," he said.

"Everything is taken out before I got to bed. I've got an increased awareness of fire and its dangers."

Ms Quinn added: "I'll be making sure the house is as safe for us coming back to as possible.

"Lightning never strikes twice, as the say, but who would have thought it would have struck once?"

More on this story