East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service was called out following a lightning strike at a property in Hailsham last night (10th October).
Six fire appliances were mobilised at 7.18pm to The Diplocks following reports of a fire in which people were trapped inside, which also resulted in the roof collapsing.
Firefighters entered the property wearing breathing apparatus and tackled the blaze using three main jets, two hose reel jets, two foam jets and a thermal imaging camera was used to locate casualties inside the building. An aerial ladder platform was also used to tackle the fire.
Crews remained at the incident throughout the night damping down and checking for any hotspots
Everyone was safely evacuated from the block of flats and the incident was scaled down just before midnight. Crews remained at the scene until 8.06am this morning (10th October), with a re-inspection of the building carried out at 3.34am. A full fire investigation got underway this morning.
Incident Commander Mark Hobbs said: “The crews did a fantastic job preventing the fire spreading throughout the roof space, as the flames were being fanned by strong winds into adjoining properties.
“Firefighters assisted in ensuring that approximately 30 people were led to safety and residents were temporarily given shelter in the village hall for the first few hours.
“Whilst the risk of being struck by lightning is extremely rare East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service consistently attends a number of lightning-related incidents. Steps should be taken to protect your family, your home and business in case of a lightning strike and relevant safety information can be found within our Black Museum web pages.
“Sadly, often we have been to incidents where residents are under-insured, or not insured, and invariably residents can lose everything.”
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service also attended a second incident in Bexhill at 10.18pm last night (9th October) at a property in South Cliff.
Five fire appliances were mobilised to the incident and firefighters, wearing breathing apparatus, used two hose reel jets and one-in-seven foam to tackle the fire. The Aerial Ladder Platform was also used to help with the salvage operation.
Crews remained at the scene until 7.16am this morning (10th October) and a fire investigation was carried out, which concluded that the cause was accidental.
Your home might not take a direct hit, but lightning and the power surge it may cause is still a destructive force.
Take some simple preventative steps to protect your family as well as your appliances and electronics during thunderstorms.
The safest place to be during a lightning storm is inside a relatively large, fully enclosed building (not a small shed or an open garage, for example).
If lightning does strike the building, the charge will be carried through pipes and wiring into the ground, well away from the occupants.
Before a Storm
When indoors, we advise you follow these safety tips:
- Be prepared, have a torch, battery powered radio and mobile phone charged and accessible.
- Where possible park your car in the garage or away from tall trees, overhanging cables and buildings.
- Unplug expensive electronic devices (televisions, computers, stereos, etc.) to help protect them.
- Isolate TV's from aerials, satellite dishes and cables.
During a Storm
- Do not use telephones, headphones or electrical appliances during the storm - lightning can travel through the wires and produce shocks to anyone using them. Mobile phones are safe to use during lightning storms because they are not physically connected to the wires.
- Do not take a bath, shower or washing during a lightning storm, because water is a conductor and charges can be carried through metal pipes.
- Stay away from windows, doors and exterior walls if at all possible.
- Keep windows and doors closed during the storm.
- Draw blinds and curtains over windows. If windows break due to the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering into your home.
- Stay inside for 30 minutes after the last lightning strikes to ensure the storm has fully passed.
After the Storm
- Check for fire in your attic and other hidden spaces immediately after a strike. A fire can spread quickly and silently before your smoke alarms notice it. A lightning rod properly grounded gives the electric blast an easy path to earth but your home may still suffer damage.
- Avoid damaged trees and structures, they may be unsafe and fall.
- Keep away from fallen power lines. Some wires will spark and snap, others do not, but both are dangerous.