A Gravesend man suffered burns in the early hours of this morning after lightning set his loft on fire.

Roy Thomas, his partner Tracey Shelton and her 15-year-old son Toby were asleep at their home in Calderwood when they were woken by a massive bang.

The fire alarm sounded and the family tried to find the source of the flames.

Mr Thomas said: “We started to feel our way downstairs in the darkness as all the power was out and Tracey smelt smoke, which we thought was coming from the TV.

“Fortunately, I looked up at the loft hatch and could see a glowing light.

“We phoned the fire service and I grabbed a ladder to investigate.

“As soon as I opened the hatch I could see the flames roaring away but the whole space was full of smoke.

“I tried to smother the flames with towels and bedding but it was too hot and I burnt my hands."

He persisted despite the injuries he suffered.

Mr Thomas said: “By this time Tracey and her son were passing wet towels and buckets of water to me, which I threw over the fire but it kept flaring back up.

“Thankfully, the last wet beach towel I threw on it managed to smother the flames and the firefighters were there."

The fire crews arrived within minutes and Mr Thomas was rushed to hospital for burns treatment. 

He said: “My hands were numb at the time but are quite painful now and I think the shock is beginning to set in.

“While it’s only the loft that was damaged by the fire, the lightning has blown all the electrics, several TV’s were destroyed and the house alarm completely fried.”

Thames-side crew manager Rob Parkin said: “The 999 call came through at around 3.20am but the family’s quick thinking really helped what could have been a potentially serious roof fire.

“One of the reasons fires can spread so quickly is the clutter people keep in their homes.

“Fortunately, this family had a clear loft space and their actions really did make a difference to the severity of the fire. I’d suggest everyone makes time to get rid of unwanted items in their home and has a practiced fire escape plan, so that you know what to do in the event of a fire.

“Working smoke alarms are also invaluable in providing an early warning.”