Family flees burning Prahran house

A family of five escaped unhurt after a lightning strike started a fire at their Prahran home on Monday.

Jillian Staton had gathered in a bedroom with her three teenage children and mother-in-law after they were woken by the thunderstorm that hit Melbourne.

They then heard a loud crash, smelt smoke and saw flames, forcing them to flee the home, 3AW reported. By the morning the roof of the house was blackened and partially destroyed.

Metropolitan Fire Brigade acting commander Paul Juhlin said lightning hit a tree just after 3am, which then fell onto the house and “blew the roof apart”.

He said while no one was injured in the blaze, neighbours had been looking after the family since.

Fire crews took just under two hours to control the fire.

A retaining wall between the house in A’Beckett Street and next-door neighbour Bill Wiseman’s property collapsed when fire crews were putting out the fire and has since been made secure. No other property was damaged in the fire.

Mr Wiseman said that while he heard a loud bang early in the morning, he thought the noise was from the thunderstorm and went back to sleep.

“I thought everything was OK,” he said. He realised something was wrong when the family knocked on his door later that morning after they had fled the house.

Nearby resident Amy Hinks, who lives around the corner from the house, said she knew the storm was directly overhead.

Although Ms Hinks did not see the blaze, she said the storm was “scary”.

“I haven’t heard thunder and lightning that loud in a long time,” she said.

 

This article originally appeared on page 3 of The Age newspaper on 28 October 2014.

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