£1million house hit by lightning

By Mark HeathTHE owners of a £1million house devastated by a lightning strike told last night of their relief that no-one was hurt in the blaze that followed.

By Mark Heath

THE owners of a £1million house devastated by a lightning strike told last night of their relief that no-one was hurt in the blaze that followed.

Liz and Paul Magnus also paid tribute to the firefighters who risked life and limb to salvage their possessions from the burning house.

The drama unfolded at about 2.30pm yesterday when the house - parts of which date back to 1546 - was hit by a vicious bolt of lightning.

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Mrs Magnus and her friend, Jan Hyde, were both in the house in Red Hill Road, Aldham, near Hadleigh, when the lightning struck.

“It was a direct hit. There had been a storm going on which wasn't directly overhead - but then there was an almighty bang and the power went,” said Mrs Magnus.

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“The power wouldn't come back on again, so we went upstairs to check on things. We smelt smoke and heard noises in the roof.

“Then we ran outside, saw the smoke and hit 999 straight away - I said that I thought we'd been struck by lightning.”

More than 30 firefighters were called in to tackle the blaze, which ripped through the roof of the Tudor building.

“The firemen were absolutely brilliant - they were trying to get things that were precious to us out of the house in case the worst happened,” said Mrs Magnus.

“I'm probably in shock at the moment and I feel a bit sick, but you have to be philosophical - it could have been a lot worse.

“The roof has gone, but we can rebuild that. If someone had been hurt, then there's no replacing them.”

Mrs Magnus and her husband Paul, a prominent businessman who runs the Suffolk-based Magnus Group, have lived in the house since 1983.

The couple believed they would be able to live in a different part of the building while repairs were carried out.

“The electricity board are coming out to see whether they can restore power,” said Mrs Magnus. “My kitchen is non-existent at the moment, but we're not exactly homeless and we'll manage.”

Mr Magnus said he had been at work when his wife had called to tell him about the blaze.

“I moved pretty quickly. These things happen and I'm just glad no-one was hurt - but I'm not looking forward to going inside,” he said.

Mrs Hyde also paid tribute to the firefighters, who ran into the burning building to save photos of her son, Daniel, who died last year.

“I would never have got the pictures back,” she sobbed. “They are the last pictures I've got of my son - I can't praise the firemen enough.

“They knew how important the photos were to me and they went in under the flames to get them. I can't believe they did it - that's bravery.”

Assistant Divisional Officer Ian Bowell, of Suffolk Fire Service, said they had been faced with a serious fire in the roof.

“The roof had collapsed in and the flames were coming out of the roof. The first crews were faced with a difficult task, so we tried to contain the fire until the rest of the crews got here,” he added.

“We then attacked the fire using breathing apparatus and hose reels by entering the building and gaining access inside the loft spaces.”

The fire was put out in two hours, but crews remained at the scene last night to damp down and continue the salvage operation.


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