Hampshire: Houses partially destroyed after being struck by lightning in Andover amid thunderstorm warnings

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Two houses in Hampshire have been severely damaged after they were hit by lightning, the fire service has said.

The roofs of the two semi-detached properties in Andover collapsed after being struck in a thunderstorm and flames then spread through the homes, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIOWFRS) said.

Smoke was pictured coming from the homes in Mercia Avenue, with firefighters sent from seven surrounding areas just after 4.30am on Saturday.

Both properties were "severely damaged" by the explosion, the fire service said.

A 70-year-old woman was checked over by paramedics at the scene but was not taken to hospital, it added.

Yellow thunderstorm warnings are in place for the entire south coast and parts of Wales until midnight on Sunday.

Neighbour Barrie Austen, 79, described the moment the lightning struck.

"There was this enormous bang, it was obviously the lightning, I think it woke the rest of the street up," he said.

"I saw the flickering and when I looked out I saw the roof of the semi-detached house completely ablaze and it had completely gone.

"The side that supports the roof, that collapsed as well and then the flames spread into next door."

He said that the 70-year-old was one of two sisters living in one of the properties.

"She seemed shaken but seemed okay, no real physical problems. I think the lightning hit the roof, woke them up and they just got out," he added.

It took just under three hours to get the fire under control and fire crews were still damping down the homes on Saturday afternoon.

The thunderstorms come after a week of extreme heat across the UK, with temperatures exceeding 30C (86F).

Forecasters say the heatwave will be replaced by heavy rain, hail and gusts of wind over the weekend.

The Met Office has issued two thunderstorm warnings for Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Heavy rain is expected across southern parts of England and Wales on Saturday, with 50mm (2in) due to fall in just one hour, and up to 100mm (4in) falling in some spots on Sunday.

Those hoping to make the most of the first weekend of the school holidays could be left disappointed, with around six million leisure journeys expected to take place this weekend, according to the RAC.

Heavy downpours run the risk of flooding, road closures and hazardous driving conditions, while strong winds - of up to 55mph in coastal areas - are likely to cause problems for people staying in tents or caravans.

Ferry services may also be affected, the Met Office added.

Sunday's storm warning moves eastwards into East Anglia and risks causing disruption to Latitude Festival in Suffolk.

Around 40,000 people are due to attend the event at the Henham Park estate as part of the government's large events pilot programme.

The north of England is likely to have more settled weather, with less rain and more sunshine, although temperatures will be cooler than they were this week.

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