Northern Ireland

County Down homes damaged in lightning strikes

Damage to the roof of the house between Crossgar and Ballynahinch Image copyright Gareth McGreevy
Image caption Gareth McGreevy said the roof of his parents' house was damaged

Two families from County Down have described the impact when lightning struck their homes during storms on Tuesday night.

Gareth McGreevy said his family were watching television in their property between Crossgar and Ballynahinch, when there "was a massive explosion".

Damage was caused to the roof of the house and lights fell off a ceiling.

Elsewhere, Brenda Higgins said her family's property was also damaged at Katesbridge.

She said her son had a lucky escape as the bedroom he was staying in was struck by lightning 30 minutes after he left.

"I was in bed about five or ten minutes and heard this massive bang," she added.

"From the room, I could see the orange glow of a fire from the other bedroom - thankfully the rain put it out.

Image copyright Brenda Higgins
Image caption Damage caused to Brenda Higgins' home in Katesbridge

"My son was very lucky as he had been in the bedroom about half an hour beforehand.

"He had gone downstairs to watch TV when the lightning struck.

"I got the younger children out of the house when I realised part of the roof was off."

Ms Higgins praised the efforts of the fire and rescue service, but added that a number "of the plug sockets are now out of action" following the lightning strike.

Image copyright Brenda Higgins
Image caption She said her son had left the bedroom he was staying in 30 minutes before lightning struck

"We've called the insurance company to assess the damage, but we'll not be in the house tonight," she said.

Mr McGreevy said the incident at his parents' house was "terrifying" and sounded "like a bomb had gone off".

Image copyright Brenda Higgins
Image caption Roof tiles on the patio of the property

"We were watching television waiting on the Rose of Tralee result and there was a massive explosion," he added.

"A phone flew off the wall, it was like a bomb had gone off.

"There was an eerie silence and you could smell the burning.

"We didn't realise that the roof had been struck until about 15 minutes later when we had a walk around and saw all the debris."

Image copyright Gareth McGreevy
Image caption Mr McGreevy said power had now been restored to his parents' property at Drumnaconagher Road

Mr McGreevy said there were three holes in the roof of the property.

He added that the roof tiles "were in smithereens" and had fallen on top of his sister's car.

He said that when they called the fire and rescue service they advised the family to leave the property "until they arrived to take a look at it".

"They were fantastic when they arrived," Mr McGreevy added.

"They looked around the house for any fire hazards and some worked to help cover the roof.

"Power has been restored. We've cleared the damage from outside, but now we just have to fix the house.

"It was terrifying. It was a surreal experience, something I'd hate for anyone to go through."