NEIGHBOURS rushed to the rescue this afternoon (May 22) after a lightning strike set fire to a terraced house in Chichester.
The lightning bolt struck the chimney around 1.30pm and was heard throughout the city.
Neighbours in Mumford Place instantly climbed through a front window as they feared one of the occupants, who worked night shifts, would be asleep in the flaming bedroom.
“We’re a close-knit street and we all look after each other,” said Glyn Gilbert, who owns the house with his wife Val. Everyone was out of the house when the lightning struck.
Their bedroom and their son Tim Barrett’s bedroom both caught fire.
Their direct neighbour Dave Tilley was one of the first into the house.
“I was in my own house when I initially heard it,” he said.
“It was a horrendous bang and the front window was blown out.
“I went in through the front window and turned the gas and electric off.
“I knew there were animals in there but I could see Tim’s car – I thought he was up in the bedroom.
“I got two of the dogs out, I knew there were four dogs in the house.
“I went upstairs, I was looking for Tim, but the bedroom was on fire. I could see he wasn’t on the bed, but the walls were blown out and there was brick rubble behind the door.”
Someone gave him a wet towel and he put it over his head. He was treated by paramedics for smoke inhalation but did not need to go to hospital.
“It was some fire though,” he said, adding: “I’m just so glad nobody was there.
“It looked like a bomb had gone off. It’s blown everything out.”
The lightning strike blew out gas heaters in the downstairs room, but set fire to the bedrooms which join the chimney.
Firefighters, police and ambulances were all at the scene but fortunately no one was hurt. The flames have been extinguished but there was extensive damage to the home.