Beach-ball sized lightning bolt flashes through house, sets fire to shed

Stephen and Sharon Grant, of Cromwell, with some smoke damaged interior of their shed after it was hit by lightning on ...
Jo McKenzie-McLean

Stephen and Sharon Grant, of Cromwell, with some smoke damaged interior of their shed after it was hit by lightning on Wednesday night.

A lightning storm that hit homes in Cromwell last night and set fire to a shed on one of the properties was "terrifying", residents say.

Shirley Field said she was in a bedroom in her Bell Ave home when a "ball-like flash" appeared before her.

"There were sparks and cracking sounds. It made a hell of a noise. Then as fast it was there it was gone. I was lost for words. It gave me a hell of a fright. It was awful. It was the size of a beach ball and was sparking like a firework and was quite low to the ground. It just happened so quick. There was just a terrifying noise and I was faced with this. I was fair baffled. It was truly frightening."

Her husband Neville was in the lounge when he heard a loud "bang crack" and there was a big flash in the lounge.

"Then I heard Shirley yell out and I went to see if she was OK."

Shirley had not long earlier been outside in the "teeming rain" to collect her mail from the neighbour's because they had just returned from holiday, she said.

"I just keep thinking, 'My God, if I had been outside with my umbrella and got hit - I'd be ... Kentucky Fried Chicken."

Their next door neighbours Sharon and Stephen Grant, who moved to Cromwell in December from Milton, said they had never experienced anything like it.

"We were sitting here having tea and it just went boom. Then I saw smoke coming out of the grass, Stephen Grant said.

His wife, Sharon, said she saw sparks jumping off their roof. 

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"The sparks were like little balls jumping around. I have never experienced anything like it. The bang was so loud. The kids went wide-eyed and got quite a fright and hit the floor."

After the bang, Stephen went outside to check nothing had caught fire, he said.

"Luckily I did because there were flames up from where the earth goes into the shed. The flames were about one metre high so I rushed out and grabbed an empty pot, filled it with water and chucked it on."

The fire had spread to the inside of the shed, however, he managed to douse it before the fire service arrived, he said.

"I said we should ring the fire brigade but then we heard sirens and they turned up at the neighbour's house. They came over and checked it, and got an electrician to check the wiring."

 - Stuff

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