Tue, 22 May 2018
TWO garages in Thatcham were destroyed by a lightning strike yesterday afternoon (Monday).
The strike in Justice Close blew the roof of one garage and damaged another; and the thick smoke could be seen from miles around.
One resident told NewburyToday: "There was one hell of a terrific bang.
"We didn't realise what had happened and then we opened the door and realised what had happened."
Three fire engines were sent to the close following 14 calls to the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service at 4.32pm.
Red watch manager at Newbury Fire Station, Martin Doolin, said: "When we arrived the left hand garage was well alight. Fortunately, we were able to stop it spreading to the property and garage next door.
"The smoke was clearly visible from a long way away."
No one was in the adjoining house when the lightning struck and no one was injured.
Crews forced entry into the smoke logged property to ensure the fire had not spread, and remained on scene for about an hour and a half.
Mr Doolin stressed the importance of working smoke detectors.
He said: "Luckily the smoke detectors in the property did work and they were going off. If the property did have people in it they would have been alerted."
Residents of the close, which was hit by the devastating floods of 2007, rallied round to support their neighbours; bringing out hot drinks and biscuits for the occupants and firefighters.
Resident Val Stevenson told NewburyToday: "I was driving back along the A4 and saw the smoke and thought 'wow that's close'.
"My neighbour had text to say there had been a lightning strike.
"I followed the smoke, then we drove in here and it went up so quickly it was unbelievable. But it could have been worse, they could have been in.
"The firemen have been brilliant, they were ever so quick."
Station manager, Steve Beard, said: “The damage to the garages was considerable and without prompt action from the crews and members of the public that reported it, the fire would have spread to adjoining properties.”
“Although lightning strikes don’t happen very often, when they do, they can initiate severe damage and rapid fire spread.”
“Following a fire of this type, we would recommended a professional checks the integrity and safety of any systems that may have been affected.”