Lightning damages cricket pavilion and house

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A HOUSE and cricket pavilion were badly damaged when a tree exploded after it was struck by lightning.

The incident happened at Maresfield Recreation Ground on Tuesday at 2:30pm.

Residents reported seeing a dramatic lightning bolt hit the 150 ft, 100-year-old elm tree before collapsing on top of the sports pavilion and damaging a neighbouring resident’s home and garden.

There were no reported injuries.

Maresfield Parish Cllr Ken Ogden was one of the first people on the scene.

He said: “It is a bit of a shock. It was the kind of weather you would expect to see in Japan. The weather is very changeable these days.

“It took us five hours to try and sheet up the holes. Most of the damage seems to be in the roof, but we don’t know if it is useable yet, or if the rest of the building sustained any damage. We won’t know that until we get inside and take a look around.

“A neighbouring house was also damaged by the debris, I’m not sure how bad it is over there though.

“Apparently this type of tree is susceptible and most likely to be struck by lightning which I never knew.

“A group of us rallied together and boarded up the roof. Hopefully there isn’t too much damage.”

The entire county was battered by storms on Tuesday with lightning strikes reported in eight places across Sussex. The most severe cases were in Crawley, Gatwick and Burgess Hill. Two houses were hit in Maidenbower and Burgess Hill while the control tower at the airport was struck, causing major delays to flights.

As torrential rain poured down trains ground to a halt and traffic built up on the roads. Some homes and businesses suffered power cuts while firefighters were out in forces attending incidents caused by the thunder storm. A spokeswoman for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were called to a tree felled by lightning. The area was made safe by us and left in the hands of residents and parish councillors.”