Lightning strike: 'We thought it was a bomb'

Carletta Bongard (R) and daughter, Alesha Rodgers, in their bathroom after a lightning strike hit the Papakura house last night. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Carletta Bongard (R) and daughter, Alesha Rodgers, in their bathroom after a lightning strike hit the Papakura house last night. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Lightning strikes in Auckland overnight blew light fixtures out of their sockets, cut power to homes and caused set fire to a couple's bed while they were sleeping in it.

About 20 properties on Pukekohe's O'Connor Drive received electrical damage, and two houses in Papakura's Ariki Place were also struck by lightning and damaged.

"It just hit, 'boom'," Ariki Place resident Carletta Bongard said. "[I] just heard a massive bang, it's incredible."

The lightning stuck the corner of their house outside of their shower window with such force it cased the shower wall to cave in and windows to shatter.

The strike also hit with such force that their power meter was blown completely off the house, a heater was blown off a wall and light fixtures were blown out of their sockets.

Mrs Bongard said she was lucky to avoid injury as she has been in the shower ten minutes before the lightning struck.

"We couldn't see anything because of all the smoke everywhere... we got up and didn't know what had happened," Mrs Bongard said.

"We thought it was a bomb - it was just so huge, it was just so loud.

"We heard the thunder rolling and then it just lit, and then that was it... it's done a lot more damage than what we realised.

"You could feel the house shake," daughter Alesha said.

Neighbour Josh Roa said the lightning strike sent a surge through his home's phone lines and caused his modem and wireless router to shoot out of the wall, setting fire to his bed.

"The voltage sparked the base of our bed and then that caught on fire, and then it touched onto the mattress and then that caught on fire."

Mr Roa said he pulled the mattress off the bed with his wife and they then doused the flames.

"The bed's gone to a better place now - we're never using that again."

The rest of their home escaped unscathed, Mr Roa said.

"It was really loud, I've never heard anything like that before."

My Roa said his three young daughters were sleeping on the other side of the house "oblivious to everything" when the lightning struck.

"Even after the fire service came out and they helped us to get the mattress out and doused it again outside -- they were still asleep.

"We had to wake them up to take them over to their nana and grandad's.

"We were really fortunate because if it had been in the girl's room we wouldn't have known."

The lightning also damaged switchboards, which cut power to all properties on O'Connor Drive and Ariki Street, northern fire communications shift manager Nicole Bernard said.

A fire service spokesman said the lightning strikes cut power to almost two dozen Auckland properties after around 10.30pm.

MetService meteorologist Peter Little last night said the thunderstorms were being caused by a cold, unstable westerly flow, moving up the country.

- NZ Herald

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