Lightning strikes TV aerial sparking fire in Essex home

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Media captionFlat's roof set ablaze by lightning strike in Bradwell

A railway worker says he is "lucky to be alive" after his Essex home was struck by lightning during overnight storms.

James Messer, 40, was asleep in a room directly below the roof space when he heard a loud bang and realised his loft was ablaze.

He said the noise of the strike was "like a bomb going off".

The entire building in The Street, Bradwell - which contains four one-bedroom houses - had to be evacuated.

Essex Fire Service was called to the scene at about 03:50 BST on Wednesday.

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Image caption The street, containing four one-bedroom houses, was evacuated after the strike

Mr Messer, who works for Network Rail, told the BBC he quickly realised his TV aerial had been struck and his loft was on fire. He said he was "lucky to be alive".

He praised the actions of the fire service who he said arrived "within 10 to 15 minutes".

The fire broke out during an intense thunderstorm which brought heavy rain and frequent lightning bursts during the early hours.

The Street was cordoned off for much of the night while crews worked to dampen hotspots in the building roof.

"When crews arrived at the property they found the fire was affecting the roof spaces of two properties," the fire service confirmed.

It added a Red Cross unit also attended to provide the occupants with immediate welfare support.

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