A FAMILY is temporarily homeless after a bolt of lightning caused massive damage at their house.

The blast struck Jim and Anne Bence's home at Spring Gardens, Upperthong, at about 10.30 last night.

Mr Bence was in the living room watching television, while his wife was upstairs in bed.

The couple's 26-year-old son Adam, who lives at home, was out at work.

Mr Bence said: "It was just the one bolt, no storm as such. Anne had just gone to bed and I was watching sports channels. I thought the TV had exploded at first, then I remember things just flying around the room and it went dark.

"I think Anne was more frightened than me, because it was all dark and the ceiling was coming down upstairs."

Fortunately, neither Mr nor Mrs Bence was injured.

Mr Bence said: "We are in delayed shock and only just taking in the enormity of what has happened and the work that will need doing."

Plasterboard was blown off the walls in the living room, the bathroom window at the back of the house was blown out and all but one of the bedroom ceilings have fallen in.

A large hole can be seen near the chimney, where the lightning travelled down through the house after hitting the TV aerial.

Part of the chimney flew off the roof, across the cul-de-sac and hit a neighbour's pick-up truck.

Both houses to the right of the Bence's home had their outside phone connection boxes blown off the wall.

Even Mr Bence's car, which was parked in the driveway, was damaged.

Its electrical management system was affected and now it will not start.

Firefighters checked the building last night for fires and made the roof safe.

However, Mr and Mrs Bence cannot stay in the house.

Last night they slept across the road at their neighbour David Horne's house and are now waiting for their insurance company to assess the situation. The work could take several weeks, Mr Horne guessed.

The lightning also knocked out power to every home in the street and disabled residents' phones and alarm systems.

Power returned about 20 minutes later, but telephones were only just coming back on this morning.

Mr Horne said: "We heard an almighty bang, and everybody was in the street. All the TVs have gone and the alarm systems.

"No-one even heard any thunder, it was just one bolt. We thought a plane had come down or something."