A FAMILY narrowly escaped serious harm after lightning struck the roof of their house causing it to fall in.

The strike to the roof of the two story property in Murrell Lock, Chelmer Village, saw it catch fire at about 10.45pm last night.

By 11.30pm, the roof had collapsed.

Emergency services rushed to the scene to tackle the blaze at about 11pm, which by midnight had spread to the top floor of the building.

A neighbour said a woman and two girls fled the house shortly after the incident.

Fire crews left the scene just after 5am after the fire had been dampened. They reported that 60 per cent of the property’s timber frame had been damaged by the fire.

Essex Fire has said an investigation will be carried out to establish the cause of the fire.