Updated: Property severely damaged in blaze which saw eight fire crews scrambled to South Molton at 4.30am today (Saturday).

Firefighters suspect a lightening strike was the cause of a major house fire in South Molton in the early hours of Saturday morning.Firefighters suspect a lightening strike was the cause of a major house fire in South Molton in the early hours of Saturday morning.

AROUND 50 fire fighters battled to save the roof of a house thought to have been hit by lightning in the early hours of this morning (Saturday).

North Road was closed off and is likely to remain shut for much of this morning after a large blaze broke out in the home opposite Griffin’s Yard at around 4.30am.

An eyewitness said he heard the strike, describing it as a loud, ‘wooshing’ sound, while another couple said it ‘sounded like a bomb going off’.

Incident commander Pete Bond described the fire as a ‘major incident’ which involved six pumps from across the region.

The fire in South Molton in the early hours of Saturday morning.The fire in South Molton in the early hours of Saturday morning.

He said fire fighters were successful in saving half of the roof and stopping the fire from spreading to the adjacent properties.

The owners of the house were alerted to the blaze by smoke alarms and evacuated the property without injury, taking refuge with neighbours.

Three fire engines from South Molton, Barnstaple and Chulmleigh were initially scrambled to the callout. On arrival they requested backup from Barnstaple and an incident command vehicle from Ilfracombe.

The British Red Cross Fire and Emergency Support Services team, as well as Western Power, were also requested to attend.

Firefighters suspect a lightening strike was the cause of a major house fire in South Molton in the early hours of Saturday morning.Firefighters suspect a lightening strike was the cause of a major house fire in South Molton in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Fire crews began tackling the flames wearing breathing apparatus kit and using a compressed air foam jet and hose reel jet from a street hydrant.

Just before 5am crews requested the aerial platform ladder from Barnstaple and called police out to close the road.

Two further fire crews from Bideford and Witheridge, as well as a welfare unit from Crediton were scrambled to the scene shortly after.

The roof of the two storey building was well ablaze and six breathing apparatus wearers were still tackling the fire and undertaking salvage work at 5.30am.

Firefighters suspect a lightening strike was the cause of a major house fire in South Molton in the early hours of Saturday morning.Firefighters suspect a lightening strike was the cause of a major house fire in South Molton in the early hours of Saturday morning.

At 6am, crews requested the North Devon Council buildings inspector attend the scene, where the fire had been confined to the first floor and roof space.

By 7.50am, crews reported steady progress was being made with breathing apparatus no longer in use and fire fighters cutting away and damping down hot spots.

Fire crews are still at the scene making it safe. The pavement has been opened by the road is still closed while crews use the aerial platform ladder to remove damaged roof tiles.

Check back for more as we have it. See more pictures by clicking on the gallery link at the top right of this page.

Did you witness the blaze this morning? Send your photos to sarah.howells@archant.co.uk