‘It was like walking into a war zone’, says rescuer who helped mother and son get out of Gorleston home hit by lightning

Ricky Tovell who came to the rescue of a lady inside the house struck by lightning in Gorleston.Pict

Ricky Tovell who came to the rescue of a lady inside the house struck by lightning in Gorleston.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

A brave man helped a mother and her son flee their home after a lightning bolt tore through it.

Emergency services at the scene of a lightning strike on a home in Gorleston, Norfolk.

Emergency services at the scene of a lightning strike on a home in Gorleston, Norfolk. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A house in Brasenose Avenue, Gorleston, was struck by lightning during a large storm at about 4.15pm on Wednesday.

The two-bedroom property was left very badly damaged, with the walls and ceilings collapsed, the front window smashed and roof shattered.

Ricky Tovell, 45, was in a nearby shop when he heard a huge bang.

He said: 'A woman came into the shop saying a house had blown up. The first thing I wanted to do was check everyone was OK.'

Emergency services at the scene of a lightning strike on a home in Gorleston, Norfolk.

Emergency services at the scene of a lightning strike on a home in Gorleston, Norfolk. - Credit: Nick Butcher

The father-of-six walked down the road and saw the damaged house.


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When he saw no-one go in, he phoned for the fire brigade and then went in through the front door which was slightly ajar.

'When I got to the house, the adrenaline just kicked in. I wasn't worried about me, I was worried about the people inside. I thought the chimney could have come down at any time so needed to get them out.'

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Mr Tovell, who lives in Birch Way, Gorleston, described the havoc the strike had caused to the home.

Emergency services at the scene of a lightning strike on a home in Gorleston, Norfolk.

Emergency services at the scene of a lightning strike on a home in Gorleston, Norfolk. - Credit: Nick Butcher

'It was like someone put a bomb in the middle of the house. It was like walking into a war zone.

'It was just unbelievable – I have never seen anything like that in my life. It had torn right through the house, all the wires were blown out of the walls. I saw a lady and she was just staring at her hands. I said 'hello, hello' and she looked at me and said she couldn't hear me, all she could hear was a loud ringing.'

Mr Tovell, a former heating engineer who now is a carer for his wife, asked her if anyone else was home and the woman said her son was upstairs.

He said: 'When I went upstairs I could see the sky through the roof because the ceiling had come down and rain was coming through.

'Her son was in his room and was covered in dust up his arms and had cut his arm.

'I told them both not to touch anything because the charge can stay in the house for a long while after and shock you.

'I wanted to check all the electrics were off so went to the fuse box but saw it was smoking, so quickly left.'

The mother and son were taken by ambulance to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston. Their condition is not known.

Mr Tovell remained resolutely calm throughout the ordeal, even when he got home.

'I got back and had a cup of tea. It did run through my mind before I went to sleep though. It could have been my kids in our house.'

Mr Tovell, a keen amateur photographer, had enjoyed chasing storms to capture a great image.

'This has changed my outlook on that now. Seeing this just shows what nature can do.'

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