A terrifying lightning strike is believed to have set a house on fire and forced other homes to be evacuated in Greater Manchester.
A nearby primary school has also been closed following the freak weather incident in Ashton-under-Lyne this morning, with residents hearing an “explosion” before a blaze broke out on the property’s roof.
Emergency crews quickly descended on the terraced house in Store Street around 7am, with some neighbouring occupants told to temporarily vacate.
One said they heard a large bang which “sounded like an explosion” and then saw smoke.
Oliver Driver tweeted: “Heard it a few streets away and thought it must have been the thunder. Honestly sounded like a bomb went off outside the house though.”
Investigations are ongoing and fire crews are expected to remain at the scene for a number of hours.
Residents were keeping warm in the Happy Hedgehogs pre-school opposite their homes.
At least five fire engines were pictured alongside police at the scene earlier today.
Pictures also showed significant damage to the roof of the house affected by the fire.
No-one is believed to have been injured in the blaze.
Residents who were evacuated “as a safety precaution” have now been let back into their homes, though it is believed that some houses are still without electricity.
Some firefighters also remained at the scene to help clear debris.
A cordon that was in place has now been lifted.
In a statement, a spokesperson from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) said:” At approximately 7am on Friday, 7 th January, firefighters were called to reports of a fire at a terraced property on Store Street, in Ashton-under-Lyne.
“Fire engines from Ashton, Oldham, Stalybridge and Chadderton fire stations, alongside the aerial appliance from Manchester Central station, quickly attended the scene.
“The fire involved the roof space of an end terraced house.
“A number of houses on the street have been evacuated as a safety precaution.
“Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus have extinguished the fire using hose reel jets, an aerial ladder and other specialist equipment.”
Station Manager Ken Booth, officer in charge at the scene, added: “Firefighters were called to a fire involving the second floor of an end terrace property.
“Fire crews have worked to prevent spread to the next-door terrace. The fire has been extinguished.
“Crews remain at the scene clearing debris and making sure the scene is safe.
“Firefighters expect to remain at the scene for a number of hours.”