Lucky escape as garage hit by lightning

GARAGE workers and customers had a lucky escape when the building they were in was struck by lightning.

The roof of Stiles Garage, in Upper Lake, was hit by a lightning bolt just before 5pm on Tuesday.

The strike blew several tiles off the roof and damaged all the electrics but did not start a fire in the building.

A fire crew from Battle had been on standby at Bohemia Fire Station in Hastings and were returning back to base in Battle when they received the 999 call.

The crew used a thermal imaging camera to check for any hotspots or smouldering and left the scene after about an hour.

It is the second building in Battle to be struck by lightning in just over two months.

Back in August, the Collins family had a lucky escape after lightning struck the roof of their home in Bowmans Drive

Ralph Collins, 57, who was downstairs getting ready for bed when the lightning hit, suffered an electric shock.

The building did not catch fire, but the lightning made two holes in the roof, blew out the electrics and blew plaster down on to Mr and Mrs Collins’ bed.

Battle firefighter John Baker, who attended the latest incident, said such call outs were still rare.

He said: “They do crop up from time to time.

“It is fairly rare, but it has happened in the past.

“A few years ago we were going from one to the next, to the next.

“It does happen occasionally, but thankfully quite rarely.”

The sudden stormy weather on Tuesday afternoon also caused flash flooding in some areas, including Crowhurst.

Meanwhile, as the lightning struck Battle, there were reports of an unusual meteorological occurrence off the coast of Hastings and Bexhill.

A number of people contacted the Hastings Observer to report a sighting of what they believed to be a small tornado.

Experts say the ‘tornado’ was in fact a waterspout, which occurs when a common funnel cloud, made of condensed water droplets and a rotating column of wind, comes into contact with water.