Lily Miller expected the heatwave to break . . . but not with a ferocity which almost killed her.
The 73-year-old had a miracle escape when a lightning bolt blew a huge hole in her roof, flashed inches past her head and blasted through the bedroom floor into the lounge below.
“I’m so lucky to be alive,” said a visibly shaken Lily as she surveyed the damage to her house in Meadowside, Walmer Bridge. “There was an enormous bang. It was just like a bomb going off.”
The violent storm hit parts of Lancashire at breakfast-time after the hottest 24 hours of the year so far. Temperatures of around 30C during Tuesday were followed by 25C during the early hours of yesterday, sparking thunder, lightning and torrential rain across the North West.
Lily was asleep in the front bedroom when the electrical bolt speared its way through the house, bringing heavy masonry crashing down past her bed. She was checked over by paramedics at the scene.
“I was lying on one side of the bed - had I been on the other side it would have hit me,” she said. “The explosion woke me and when I opened my eyes the bedroom was full of dust and debris.
“I got up, climbed over heavy breeze blocks which had crashed through the ceiling and I just got out of there.
“I couldn’t believe what I saw. There was a huge hole in the roof and another through the floor into the lounge and the office downstairs. A neighbour came to help me. I was shaken.”
Lily’s house was one of three in close proximity hit by the lightning strike. The other two suffered less structural damage, but were still left without a power supply.
Four fire crews raced to the scene at around 7.40am yesterday after initial reports that at least one of the houses was on fire. A brigade spokesman said: “There was no fire. But firefighters confirmed occupants were safe.”
The volunteer-staffed Red Cross Fire Emergency Support Service, which looks after people displaced by emergencies, was called. But Lily said: “I won’t be leaving here, despite the damage. I’m staying put.”