PICTURES: North Walsham boy’s narrow escape as lightning devastates family home

A teenager was only feet away from a bolt of lightning which has severely damaged his North Walsham family's home.

Ian Clarke, 15, was working at a computer on the first floor of the family house yesterday afternoon when the TV aerial was struck during a violent electrical storm over the town.

'He heard a horrendous crack and an explosion and turned round to see that the attic had been blown in,' said Ian's mother, Mary Clarke, 55.

The force of the strike brought upstairs ceilings crashing down, large chunks of rubble cascaded down the staircase, wiring was burnt and the bathroom light strip was left hanging by a thread.

Outside, several tiles were blown off the roof, the TV aerial was left mangled. and the chimney stack and fuse box, in the garage, were also damaged.

Ian's father Glen, 61, estimated that the lightning had entered the house only about six feet away from Ian who was later treated for the effects of smoke inhalation but was able to return to lessons at North Walsham High School today.

'The good thing is that nobody was hurt but I think Ian had trouble sleeping last night because it kept replaying in his mind,' said Mr Clarke.

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The couple and their other two sons, James, 19, and Stuart, 17, were away from home when the drama happened, between 3pm and 3.30pm.

Mrs Clarke said Ian had tried to contact them but neither their home phone nor those of any neighbours, nor mobile phones would work and it was over 90 minutes later before the couple returned to their home, off the Happisburgh Road, to find the devastation and call the emergency services.

Firefighters from North Walsham and Mundesley, ambulance crew, and a fire emergency support unit all attended and Red Cross volunteers visited neighbouring homes to check householders and offer reassurance.

The family, who run Nobby's grocery shops in Sheringham and Wells, had to spend Sunday night in alternative accommodation and were waiting this afternoon for insurers to assess the cost of repairs.

The electrical storm also damaged signalling at North Walsham on the Norwich-to-Sheringham Bittern Line railway and Network Rail engineers were still working to repair it yesterday afternoon, having worked through last night.

Buses replaced evening trains on the route last night and there were delays of up to 10 minutes on the line this morning with some services stopping and starting at Cromer.

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