Families forced to flee block of flats as thunderstorm hits Ashford, flooding roads and businesses
Residents fled a block of flats after a bolt of lightning struck the roof and caused a fire to spread.
The fire brigade was called shortly after 5pm on Tuesday this week to Waltham Place in Stanhope as a thunderstorm rolled in over Ashford.
Crews battled to put out the fire, while Red Cross teams and neighbours helped the families affected on the top floor of the three-storey block.
Resident Jordan Conley said: “One of the neighbours said he was at home watching the television when he heard a big bang that lifted him out of his chair.
“I live here with my missus and baby daughter and we were quite lucky. We got a call when we were out to tell us that our flat was on fire, so we rushed back here and found the fire brigade here, testing and checking everything.
“We’ve had smoke damage, and some of our neighbours next door have had water damage when the water was being pumped in.”
Residents on the top floor will need emergency rehousing, though residents on the ground and first floor have been able to return.
The fire crews used a cherry picker to remove the facia and soffits in the roof of the block, to check to see if the fire had spread.
Dawn Goldsmith lives nearby. She said: “There was a big flash in the sky, and later we had neighbours banging on the door to say there’s a fire.
“The fire brigade got everyone out, they smashed through the ceiling to get through to one of the flats. There was smoke and panic.”
An Ashford Borough Council spokesman said “We are aware of the incident in Stanhope on Tuesday evening. This was led from an emergency perspective by the fire service, and from a housing perspective by Moat housing, which owns the flats.
“Council officers were on stand by if help was required for building control and housing options.
“That remains the case this week and we will obviously work with the other organisations involved should our help be called upon.” Pictures: Teresa Edwards
Pavements were turned into streams and roads into rivers as torrential rain hit Ashford on Tuesday evening.
For more than an hour a cloudburst flooded businesses and properties and caused traffic delays as drains struggled to cope. The heavy rain had been predicted for the afternoon by forecasters but didn’t arrive until around 5pm and lasted until nearly 6pm.
These pictures submitted by readers show how severe the rain was.
Firefighters at the flats in Waltham Place, South Ashford, which were hit by a lightning strike during a torrential downpour
Pictures: Teresa Edwards
Firefighters tackle the roof fire
Waltham Place, Stanhope
Traffic splashes through floodwater in Willesborough
Water sweeps down Ashford High Street during a torrential downpour
Beaver Road, Ashford
This car was left in water in Beaver Road
Flooded roads in Willesborough
Floodwater in Willesborough
A moped in Beaver Road, Ashford
Water splashes off rubbish bins in Ashford