Bomb fears as lightning strikes city home

Richard Werner with the remains of his TV aerial following the lightning strike. Picture: Greg Macvean

Richard Werner with the remains of his TV aerial following the lightning strike. Picture: Greg Macvean

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A LIGHTNING strike which sparked a fire in a family home was so loud neighbours feared a bomb had exploded in the street.

The huge bolt that earthed on a terrace house in Pilrig Street sent sparks raining down from the rooftop and caused power cuts to nearby homes. An aerial box in one property exploded while walls were left scorched and blackened as smoke filled the rooms.

Fire crews extinguished any smouldering materials in the affected property and police sealed off a section of the busy main road to allow emergency services to assess the damage.

One resident suffered a mild electric shock and a thermal imaging camera had to be deployed after a burning smell was detected in the roof space.

Sixteen firefighters were scrambled to the property following the lighting strike at 3.25pm yesterday. Resident Richard Werner, who was electrocuted in the power surge, fears he could face a bill totalling thousands of pounds to replace electrical equipment damaged by the “Act of God”.

The 32-year-old musician said: “It came out of nowhere. I was in the basement and I got a shock through my hand. The fire alarm went off, and all the lights were off. I ran up to check if my wife was okay. There was smoke in the house and there were sparks flying down the back of the building.”

Mr Werner had been standing on a plastic stool and touching a wooden cupboard when the lightning struck. He said: “Neither of them are good conductors – it must have come up from the floor after it grounded.”

His wife Louisa, 33, was upstairs with their West Highland Terrier Banjo when she heard a “colossal bang”.

“The bang shook the whole house,” she said. “The electricity went off and the sparks came down the window at the back. There was a smell of burning. Smoke was coming out of the top of the house.”

Neighbour Gunther Feldt, an 87-year-old former German POW and paratrooper, said the deafening noise was “absolutely unbelievable”.

“I heard bombs during the war and it was much louder than a bomb,” he said. “I have never experienced anything like it. There was no thunder storm just a bolt of lightning from out of nowhere – and that was it.”

The boom from the lightning strike also disrupted a nearby performance of a play, This is How We Die, at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall in nearby Dalmeny Street.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com