Light­ning ter­ror

Fam­i­lies forced to flee block of flats as thun­der­storm hits Ash­ford, flood­ing roads and busi­nesses

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - By Ai­dan Bar­low

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.

Pic­tures: Teresa Edwards/ Matt War­ren Pho­tog­ra­phy

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

Pic­ture: Matt War­ren Pho­tog­ra­phy

Traf­fic splashes through flood­wa­ter in Willes­bor­ough

Pic­ture: Steve Sal­ter

Wa­ter sweeps down Ash­ford High Street dur­ing a tor­ren­tial down­pour

Pic­ture: Ethan Hig­gins

Beaver Road, Ash­ford

Pic­ture: Luke Staines

This car was left in wa­ter in Beaver Road

Pic­ture: Matt War­ren Pho­tog­ra­phy

Flooded roads in Willes­bor­ough

Pic­ture: Matt War­ren Pho­tog­ra­phy

Flood­wa­ter in Willes­bor­ough

Pic­ture: Ethan Hig­gins

A moped in Beaver Road, Ash­ford

Pic­ture: Tom Ber­gin

Wa­ter splashes off rub­bish bins in Ash­ford

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