Bolt out of the blue as killer lightning strikes down livestock

George Curry and the tree that was struck by lightning.'Picture by Jane Coltman
George Curry and the tree that was struck by lightning.'Picture by Jane Coltman
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Six sheep were killed and several others badly injured by a lightning strike, as severe storms battered Northumberland.

George Curry was left ‘astounded’ after four lambs and two ewes were ‘electrocuted’ on his land in Lesbury last Wednesday afternoon.

The dead sheep inder the tree that was struck by lightning.

The dead sheep inder the tree that was struck by lightning.

The bolt hit a large ash tree, before passing through it and killing the animals who were resting below.

George, 70, said: “I am from a farming family but I have never come across anything like this; never anything on this scale and as devastating as this.

“I was absolutely astounded and I just couldn’t believe my eyes.

“The sheep were electrocuted. The lightning hit the tree 40ft up and the bark was stripped off at the point where the bolt hit.

“It looks as if the tree was a conductor and the electricity shot down it through the roots.

“The sheep were laying on the roots of the tree.

“They were all huddled together and in a very close area of about two or three yards. The lambs that were killed were born in March, while the ewes that died were about five years old.”

There were 21 sheep in the field at the time of the strike and several lambs were badly hurt in the incident.

Retired butcher George, who lives in Steppey Lane, said: “Two or three were concussed a bit. They haven’t made a full recovery, but they are progressing and they are far better than they were last Wednesday evening.

“I didn’t think that they would survive to be honest.”

The sheep belong to George’s brother Billy and nephew William, who farm at Howick Scar. George said: “They were completely appalled by what happened as well.

“It was one of those unfortunate accidents and there is nothing you can do about it.”

The lightning struck at around 4.30pm.

George said: “I wasn’t in at the time, but my wife Jean was in the house watching the tennis. All of a sudden she felt a queer sensation – a thump in her chest – but she thought nothing of it.

“I came back at about 4.40pm and she started telling me about the incident. She then said ‘doesn’t it look like that sheep is dead?’ It was about 20 yards away from us and I said ‘there is no doubt about it’. Six were killed in total. I was astounded.”

The storm also broke a window in the couple’s conservatory as well as damaging their computer router.