A blaze broke out at a Crondall bungalow after lightning struck a tree and sparked a fire which is believed to have been accelerated by gas canisters stored in a nearby shed.

The home, in Orchard Court off Church Street, caught fire at around 3pm on Friday during the brief storm when a bolt of lightning hit a tree next to the garden shed.

The shed was then set alight before spreading to part of the bungalow and a neighbour's shed.

Dick Wallis, who lives in a house next door to the bungalow which was severely damaged, said: "I'm still in slight shock. The tree acted as an aerial.

"I saw the flash then, as so often happens, there was a big explosion. What amazed me was the speed of the flames."

More than one neighbour reported that gas canisters were in the shed of the property which was badly damaged.

Mr Wallis added: "The village policeman came, followed by guys from all over the village. He ordered us away [from the flames].

"Just as we did there was a huge explosion and the gas canisters went. Shards of metal went in all directions. There could have been six fatalities.

"Really I got away with it. This place was just about to go up."

Mr Wallis said people should also be careful about keeping gas in their sheds after Friday's fire.

Nobody was injured in the blaze, but two dogs had to be rescued by fire crews.

Firefighters from Farnham, Odiham and Fleet who attended the scene reported that the bungalow roof and sheds were "destroyed by fire" and ceilings partially collapsed within the fire-hit home.

Mr Wallis' home also suffered some external smoke damage to fittings, such as the guttering and flue tube, meaning he's been advised not to light his boiler due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Another neighbour, Joy Thomas, also explained how she saw the lightning hit the tree before setting fire to the shed.

"Dick got some buckets of water and people came from across the road and helped," she said. "By the time the fire crews arrived the bungalow was ablaze. In the shed was some bottled gas which exploded."

Both Mr Wallis and Mrs Thomas also praised other villagers for the help and support they've offered since the blaze.

'Violent storm'

"It's a super village, everyone came up with sweeping brushes and saying they've got a spare bedroom if anyone needs it," added Mrs Thomas.

Mr Wallis said: "We have a fantastic community here."

Elsewhere, the storm also damaged Redfields Garden Centre in Ewshot Lane, Church Crookham, which had to be evacuated.

A sign in the centre on Monday said staff were unable to fully open the Cafe Theatre because of weather damage.

Martin Creasy from Johnson Way, Church Crookham, also saw roads near his home become lakes in a matter of minutes with the thunder rumbling in the distance.

"It was like a tropical storm - a long period of heat interrupted by a short, violent storm. A manhole cover was blown out in Johnson Way and another in Basingbourne Road, with water pumping out," said Mr Creasy.

"The rain hammered down so quickly and forcefully that I thought our guttering was going to collapse. When I looked out over our back garden the wind was battering everything - it felt pretty much as though we were on the edge of a tornado.

"The water was gushing down Johnson Way for a while. It looked like a raging torrent. An hour and a bit later and everything was dry - just like nothing had happened. It was staggering."