Lightning strikes South Lakes village

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

ENGINEERS have been working this week to restore phone lines and internet access to a village struck by a ‘lightning ball.’ Phone lines to the homes of most of the 100 people living at Finsthwaite, near Newby Bridge, were cut off following the freak storm.

Eye-witnesses described seeing a 'ball of blue lightning travelling along the phone line' and after that everything went dark for between 30 seconds to a minute.

There were reports of a tele-vision and phone exploding during the short-lived storm on Thursday, November 22, which some people believed was an earthquake as the accompanying roll of thunder was so deep and loud.

The Gazette reported last week that some Lakes residents had contacted The British Geological Survey.

Stephen Watson, of Chapman House Farm, said he was in a metal shed when the electrical surge hit.

"Everything just lit up," said Mr Watson. "It was like a big spotlight had come on. Luckily none of the animals were injured. The cows had their heads through metal gates at the time – if they had touched them they would have been killed."

He added that the noise gene-rated by the lightning sounded like a plane had come down.

Villager Michael Jones said: "I was sitting at my desk writing and from my perception it seemed like my lamp had blown up." His wife Pat said 'there was an almighty blue flash', with a 'loud bang'.

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"There was a massive explosion and all the lights went out," she said. "Virtually everyone’s phones had gone off and BT's hubs exploded. I think the phone cables have fused together."

A spokesperson for BT said that around 100 people were affected after 'major damage to one under-ground cable' was caused by the strike.

"The nature of the repair means services will be restored gradually and some people affected already have their phones working again.

"Teams of Openreach engineers will continue to work this week and into next week until all customers are back into service.

“Our priority is always to restore services to those affected as quickly as we can, which is what we are doing in this case.”

A spokesman for the Royal Mete-orological Society said the lightning would have accumulated with electricity on the line to create 'a massive surge'.

"A telephone line is quite narrow and for it to be hit is a rarity. In the United States it happens a lot more because they have a lot more ferocious storms."

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