'Bolt from hell' blasts roof open

2013-02-07 12:30

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Pietermaritzburg - “A bolt from hell” was how a neighbour described the lightning bolt that struck a hole in the ceiling and damaged a house while the owner was at work on Wednesday.

The woman, who works in the office of the premier, got the shock of her life when she got a phone call while at work telling her that her house had been hit by lightning and was on fire.

Arriving at her home at Chase Valley Gardens within 15 minutes, the woman found fire department officials and neighbours putting out the fire.

Fire in ceiling

It was not clear how much damage the fire, which was confined to the ceiling, had caused.

“I’ll have to call insurance and they will assess the damage,” said the woman, who simply called herself Ms Pillay.

The fire had burnt two holes in her bedroom ceiling and water was leaking on to her bed, she said.

“The electricity’s tripped, and the geyser’s burst. You can see water running out of the pipes,” she told The Witness.

Pillay said a neighbour told her he thought the lightning had struck a cellphone tower in the complex and ricocheted on to her roof.

Merle Murchie, a neighbour whose house was also hit but not damaged, described the lightning as “a bolt from hell”.

 “It was just really loud. We’re all out of lights. My husband went outside and saw that the neighbour’s house was on fire,” said Murchie.

Thinking quickly, her husband, Colin, grabbed a hosepipe and tried to douse the fire while instructing his wife to call the fire department.

He said he saw flames coming out of the top of the roof.

Quick action

Pillay said it was her neighbours’ quick action that prevented more damage.

The stench of smoke was in the air when The Witness was at the scene, while fire-fighters were in the roof to assess the damage.

Concerned neighbours who heard the lightning strike gathered in the complex’s driveway. Phelelani Ngcobo, who was cutting grass opposite Pillay’s house, saw the lightning strike.

“I was outside cutting the grass. I was looking down pushing the lawnmower when I saw this lightning accompanied by fire flash across and hit the house,” said Ngcobo.

Police spokesperson Joey Jeevan said police were aware of the incident and had attended the scene. There were no injuries.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  weather
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