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Bransgore mum describes lightning strike which started fire in their Meyrick Close home

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A BRANSGORE family escaped a blaze in their home after a huge lightning strike which “turned the whole street yellow”.

Kellie Elliott-Clarke, her husband Antoine and their three children were among the Meyrick Close residents woken by loud thunderclaps at around 2.15am on Saturday.

But their early-morning shock soon turned into a dash for safety with four fire engines packing the small cul-de-sac while the street looked on in horror.

Firefighters were at the Bransgore home until 5.30am
Firefighters were at the Bransgore home until 5.30am

Kellie said: “When the final bang – which hit the house – happened, we all woke up and bundled into the living room.

“Antoine was looking out the window and could see everyone putting their lights on. As we sat there, we could hear a snap, crackle and pop above us and I thought, why does it sound like the ceiling is about to cave in?

“Antoine then went to the bathroom and saw smoke billowing past the window. He ran back and said, ‘Get out, the house is on fire!’

“My eldest son opened the door and we couldn’t see our hands in front of our face, the air was so thick with smoke. I threw coats on the kids, they had no shoes.

“We got out and as we faced the house I kept looking at it and thinking of all the blood, sweat and tears we’d put into it. It’s a sight you never get out of your head.”

The first of four fire engines from New Milton, Ringwood, Beaulieu and Christchurch turned up within six to seven minutes of the 999 call.

Kellie continued: “A friend who turned up before the engines said he was driving past during the storm and he heard a sound like a bomb going off, and the whole street turned yellow.”

Unaware the family had escaped, one of Kellie’s neighbours ran towards the house and was banging on the door to raise the alarm.

Kellie Elliott-Clarke, her husband Antoine Clarke and their children Callum (14), Leo (11) and Kyla (6)
Kellie Elliott-Clarke, her husband Antoine Clarke and their children Callum (14), Leo (11) and Kyla (6)

“I went around with beers for him afterwards,” said Kellie. “There are not a lot of people who would run towards a building on fire like that. If we had gone back to sleep...”

Unable to return home, the family have been living at Kellie’s mother’s house in Walkford while alternative accommodation can be found and insurers assess the damage.

But Kellie has gone back to salvage what she can. She said: “It’s horrible. There’s burnt wiring hanging down, no ceiling in the living room, the boys’ room is ruined with water. It’s such a shame.

“The photos of the kids as babies are blackened around the sides. The smell is awful. But it still looks like it’s a home where things are happening: cups of tea, washing in the basket.

“I pulled stuff from the fridge and freezer just so rats don’t come, trying to prevent anything worse happening.

“The kids have just got on with it, though. It has happened days after the holidays started so it’s not good timing! We’ve just been trying to get out and do things together.”

The response from villagers had brought her to tears, Kellie said: “You just don’t realise how many people are there for you, how many just want to help.

“Within hours we had bundles of clothes – people have been unbelievable, they don’t realise how much it means.”

A fundraising webpage has been started to help the family. Visit www.gofundme.com/f/help-this-beautiful-family-get-through-this

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