Bolt out of the blue: Woman fears for life as lightning rips apart roof in Cork city

A woman whose roof was blown open by a massive lightning strike said she thought she was going to be killed.

Ber Condon, who is in her 60s, was still recovering yesterday after her bedroom ceiling caved in during the overnight incident in which her house and several others in Avonmore Park, Mayfield, on the northside of Cork City, were damaged.

“I was in total shock when it happened. I still am. I thought I was going to be killed, to be honest,” she said.

City council staff were carrying out urgent repairs to the local authority homes as ESB Network crews dealt with dozens of lightning-related faults across Cork, Waterford and Wexford.

Ber said she was asleep in an upstairs bedroom when a massive bolt of lightning struck her end-of-terrace home just after midnight.

It is believed the lightning bolt struck an aerial, travelled down into the attic, was conducted along a metal girder, before the roof to the rear of her house exploded outwards.

It left a gaping four-by-four foot hole in the roof, warped flashing around the chimney, and blew shattered roof tiles in to the garden.

Bolt out of the blue: Woman fears for life as lightning rips apart roof in Cork city

Ber’s bedroom ceiling collapsed around her but, luckily, the chunks missed her bed.

Bolt out of the blue: Woman fears for life as lightning rips apart roof in Cork city

One council worker who inspected the damage to the roof said it looked as if a bomb had gone off in the attic, and blew the roof outwards.

Terrified and shocked, Ber ran outside and raised the alarm with neighbours before family members arrived on the scene.

Her next-door-neighbours, Peter Anders, and his wife, Mary, were also asleep in bed when they heard an explosion.

“The whole house rattled and shook. I woke up and could smell burn around the house so I got a torch and went looking,” Peter said.

He found a large chunk of concrete had been blown off the dividing wall in his attic, and had smashed through the ceiling on to an empty bed in a spare room.

Bolt out of the blue: Woman fears for life as lightning rips apart roof in Cork city

“My daughter, who lives in Athlone, comes to visit regularly and she would normally have been sleeping in that bed at the weekend. We were so lucky really,” he said.

His next-door neighbour, Kevin Geraghty, was in his kitchen drinking tea with another neighbour, Ray O’Callaghan, when they saw the night sky light up and a sound like “a bomb going off”.

Kevin said all the plugs were blown from their sockets. “Stuff like this happens in other countries. It was really shocking. We didn’t really know for a few seconds what was going on,” he said.

Ray said: “I dived for cover and all the car alarms went off.”

Ber’s house suffered the most damage and council staff were making arrangements yesterday to carry out the repair work as quickly as possible. Electrical contractors were also on site to ensure the electrical supplies and systems to the terrace of houses were not damaged.

ESB Networks reported several lightning-related outages, particularly in Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Wexford. They said crews were working as quickly as possible to restore power.

Today’s weather forecast is for a mixture of sunny intervals and scattered showers. Met Éireann said some heavy showers may occur but thunderstorm activity will be less likely.

The outlook for tomorrow is for sunshine and showers, with many of the showers heavy and thundery, with the west and south most at risk.

The same weather pattern will continue into Saturday and Sunday, with localised spot flooding likely.

Outrage over outage

Up to 13,000 UPC customers in Cork were without television, broadband and phone services for extended periods yesterday.

The company blamed the outage on storm damage.

A spokesperson said last night: "Services were restored to the majority of customers by 7pm on Wednesday."

UPC first identified disruptions in the area just before 9pm on Tuesday when television, broadband and landlines were affected.

Frustrated customers tweeted the company but were reportedly disappointed by the lack of information.

One UPC user, John Morrison from Montenotte, was without phone and internet since 11pm on Tuesday, but services had not returned by teatime yesterday. He said it would be helpful for the company to give an approximate reconnection time.

Aleksandr Michejev, from Ballinlough, was also affected. He was annoyed and said he would appreciate more communication from UPC.

Kelly O'Brien


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