OAPs forced to evacuate residential home after lightning bolt strike


A freak lightning bolt started a roof fire at a sheltered housing complex in Houghton Regis on Thursday, forcing the evacuation of 30 OAPs.

During fierce storms Red House Court, on Clarke’s Way, was hit by a lightning strike at approximately 3.15pm, causing a fire in the roof.

More than 40 firefighters were despatched the battle the blaze at the Central Beds Council home, which was contained to the roof and extinguished within two hours.

Beds Fire and Rescue say that the roof was left with 20% fire damage and 50% smoke damage, while the home’s electrics were also blown out by the bolt.

Shortly after the strike residents were evacuated from Red House Court and due to the damage they were not able to return overnight.

They were first taken to Houghton Regis Day Centre where a combination of volunteers and staff from Central Beds Council’s social care, health and housing team offered refreshments and support.

Central Beds Council says that “urgent” work will put forward to allow residents to return home.

Cllr Carole Hegley, executive member for social care, health and housing, added: “Being evacuated from your home as a result of fire would be stressful for anyone, but particularly for older and vulnerable residents.

“In such situations it is always heartening to see how services and communities come together to ensure that people are kept safe and well cared for.

“I’m really grateful to everyone who was involved, from our Council, the Fire Service and volunteers.”

Following contact with next of kin, many residents stayed with their families on Thursday night but for those for whom this wasn’t possible, alternative accommodation was arranged and provided at the council’s Bupa run care home, Caddington Hall.

As many as 20 of the home’s residents have been given beds at Caddington Hall and will remain there until damage at Red House Court has been repaired.

Cheryl-Ann Edwards, home manager at Caddington Hall, said: “We were happy to welcome 20 residents into our home on Thursday night.

“We quickly made up some beds and opened the kitchen to ensure everyone had some tasty food and a warm bed to sleep in.

“Our new residents will stay with us until their home is safe to return to.”

Of the blaze, incident commander John Foolkes told Dunstable Gazette: “Firefighters worked swiftly to contain the fire and prevent it spreading to residential accommodation.

“The work of the other agencies, including the ambulance service and Central Beds Council, proved very effective in ensuring that all of the residents were kept safe.”