A lightning strike led to early hours drama for five families evacuated from their Helston homes.

A freak storm early on Saturday morning left countless houses and businesses in the area without electricity or telephone connections for days, while many are counting the cost of irreparable damage to electrical goods.

For 16 people living on the Hellis Wartha estate in Helston, however, the thunder and lightning resulted in an early morning wake up call when they were forced to abandon their homes at 6.45am due to the threat of fire.

Fork lightning hit the home of Vickie Flinders, resulting in smoke filling her loft and that of the neighbouring Wear family.

As a result four families in the adjoining homes were told to get outside by the fire service, over fears that heat could travel through the cavity walls and break out into flames. A fifth house further along the row was subsequently evacuated due to the smell of smoke.

Vickie, who works at Asda Penryn, admitted “we were very lucky” to escape without further damage, following the direct hit on a TV aerial booster box.

She said: “The loft was full of smoke. We called the fire brigade and they told us to evacuate.”

Also outside in the rain was Chloe Morgado and her three children, Constantine Primary School pupils Freddie, eight, Lily, six and four-year-old Charlie.

Wearing wellie boots and coats over their pyjamas, the three youngsters spent five hours in one of the fire engines.

Mum Chloe said: “We heard the bang about half past six. There was an almighty strike of lightning which woke me up. About ten minutes later Vickie was knocking on the door. It was all quite exciting in a scary way.”

She was full of praise for the firefighters from Helston, Mullion and Falmouth, who she said even wiped their feet on the doormat before going into the house each time.

After the drama Lily and Charlie made certificates to give to the firemen in recognition of their work.

“They arrived within minutes and were absolutely brilliant. They were fantastic with the kids, who were obviously a bit worried about what was going on,” added Chloe.

The firefighters wore breathing apparatus while they took hoses into the house, while investigating the cause of the smoke, and then used heat seeking cameras to check every cavity wall in the terrace.

Meanwhile brother and sister Coby and Libby Wear were taken in by a neighbouring family, while dad Alan kept watch on the house.

Mum Sam, having earlier smelt “bonfire smoke” but was reassured by Alan that it was nothing, had left for work at Truro’s Royal Cornwall Hospital – only for the drama to begin ten minutes later.

Electricians Cable Ollerton also received praise from the families for checking the electrics of all nine houses in the row in an emergency appointment that morning.

Elsewhere in the area Trenear near Wendron was badly hit by lightning. Countless holes in the ground can be seen where lightning struck and a cow was killed in a field, leaving a young calf without a mother.

In one house the telephone box was blown clear from the wall and the outside lines have been shredded.