Homes are destroyed by freak lightning hit

SHOCKED residents had to flee their Dagenham homes after lightning struck and wrecked their block during a heavy thunderstorm. Tracy McMillan, 40, was at home with her 13-month-old baby, Molly, when the three-story building, in Braintree Road, was struck

SHOCKED residents had to flee their Dagenham homes after lightning struck and wrecked their block during a heavy thunderstorm.

Tracy McMillan, 40, was at home with her 13-month-old baby, Molly, when the three-story building, in Braintree Road, was struck on Thursday night just before 10pm.

She said: "I heard a really loud bang and the window shook.

"I went away from the window but nothing happened."


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She did not realise that her house was on fire until a resident in a building opposite hers started waving and shouting at her to get out.

"I grabbed Molly and a nappy - she was just wearing a night shirt - and ran outside."

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While firefighters tried to tackle the blaze she waited in her neighbour's flat and watched the flames ravage her one-bedroom flat.

Ms McMillan, who works for the council's emergency planning service, was overwhelmed by the incident.

She spent the night on a couch at her sister's house.

"We have got no belongings, everything is gone," she said.

"You wake up and think: has this really happened?"

Carl Mumford, 18, a student who lives nearby, said: "I was at home with my mum and suddenly I heard her screaming.

"I went to see what was wrong and she was crying her eyes out and told me she'd seen lightning strike a block of flats nearby.

"We ran outside and I saw smoke billowing out of the building and the roof was engulfed with flames."

A spokesperson for the fire brigade said: "Firefighters were called to Braintree Road in Dagenham after lightning struck the roof of a block of flats.

"The fire damaged around 80 percent of the roof but crews worked hard to stop it from spreading to any of the flats in the three-floor block below.

"Five adults and a child left the premises before the brigade arrived.

"The brigade was called at 10pm and the fire was under control by 11.20pm.

"Around 20 firefighters and four fire engines from Dagenham, Barking and Hornchurch fire stations attended the incident."

A council spokesperson said: "The council's maintenance contractor Enterprise attended the site quickly and worked with the fire service to make the site safe.

"Unfortunately the fire has rendered six flats uninhabitable.

"Three council tenants have been re-housed and two leaseholders are being given advice and assistance by the council's Housing Advice Service. One of the flats was uninhabited.

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