Lightning bolt sets tree alight during Olympic cycle race

A lightning bolt struck and set fire to a tree moments before Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead crossed Kingston Bridge in heavy rainfall yesterday.

A huge clap of thunder could be heard by spectators moments before the Olympic women’s cyclists crossed the bridge on Sunday at about 3pm.

Firefighters were called to the cemetery at North East Surrey Crematorium, in Lower Morden Lane, Morden, where the top of the 30 foot tree was ablaze after being hit during a storm at about 2.57pm.

Mark Feaver, watch manager of New Malden fire station, said it took a team of six about an hour to extinguish the tree fire and make the area safe, where people were tending to graves.

He said: “It was all alight when we got there. We had to chop all the burnt bark away to get to the fire underneath it.

“It had struck it and really penetrated the tree.”

Watch manager Feaver said no one was hurt during the incident.

He said he did not know what type of tree it was but said the six foot diameter trunk meant the tree did not break up but burned on for longer than usual.

He said: “For a tree to get hit and catch light is fairly unusual. Normally its chimney stacks and things like that that get hit.

“There were bird nests in the tree and so the eggs in there would have cooked up.”

Did you see anything or take photos of the fire? Get in touch 020 8744 4264 or email cbuchanan@london.newsquest.co.uk.

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