Houses struck by lightning in Hampshire as Met Office thunderstorm warning is in place

House struck by lightning in Andover Credit: Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service

A 70-year-old woman escaped unharmed after a lightning strike "severely damaged" two houses, the fire service said.

The roofs of the semi-detached houses in Mercia Avenue, Andover, had collapsed and smoke was pictured coming from the top of the building.

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service said firefighters were called to the property at 4.37am when the roof caught fire after the lightning strike.

A 70-year-old woman was assessed by paramedics at the scene and was not taken to hospital. There were also "animals" in the properties at the time of the incident, the fire service said.

Two semi-detached houses were severely damaged in Andover, Hampshire. Credit: PA

Neighbour Barrie Austen, 79, described what happened: “There was this enormous bang, it was obviously the lightning, I think it woke the rest of the street up.

“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 two sisters live at the property and one was checked over by ambulance crews.

Firefighters at the scene on Mercia Avenue in Andover Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

He added: “She seemed shaken but seemed ok, no real physical problems. I think the lightning hit the roof, woke them up and they just got out.”

The fire service tweeted a photo of the damaged property and wrote at 6.30am: "HIWFRS firefighters are on the scene in Mercia Avenue, Andover. After a house was struck by lightning. Please be advised there is a road closure in place at this incident."

The rescue service said in the later tweet at around 8am that crews are damping down.

Crews from seven fire stations - Whitchurch, Amesbury, Ludgershall, Winchester, Overton, Basingstoke and Rushmoor - attended the scene to put out the fire.

The incident comes as the Met Office issued yellow thunderstorm warnings for the south of the UK this weekend, putting an end to the heatwave.

The warnings are in place on Saturday until 10pm and on Sunday from 9am to midnight.

The weather service warned of "frequent lightning, possible large hail and gusty winds as well as torrential rainfall for some", which could cause flooding.

It said some places could see 30 to 50mm of rainfall within an hour or two.

Further thunderstorms are expected to develop by Saturday afternoon across southern counties in England and ease slowly through the evening.