Rare ‘ball lightning’ blamed as Mannings Heath loses power and internet

county times june 20
county times june 20

An eyewitness has described seeing a ball of white light shoot through Mannings Heath, just before a power cut and digital disruption.

The object, which appears to fit descriptions of a rare phenomenon called ‘ball lightning’, was seen in the village on the afternoon of June 7.

Roger Spinks told the County Times he was working at The Village Store, Pound Lane, when he saw it shoot past, heading south-west along the course of Golding Lane and Church Road.

He was standing at the counter talking to a customer when he saw it out of the window, going past very quickly with a strange motion ‘like a bouncing bomb’.

Mr Spinks said it reminded him of the mysterious balloon-like entity from cult TV series The Prisoner.

“It was just like a ball of white light,” he said. “It flashed down the road, then there was a terrific bang like a bomb going off, and our lights went out.

“Our card machine went out - I think it took out a lot of the village’s phones, broadband and Sky.”

BT engineers were in the village for three days, restoring connections.

“Our telephone was gone for several days,” said Mr Spinks. “A couple of lads came in, they were window cleaners.

“One of them had been up a ladder cleaning and the shock of it knocked him off the ladder.”

Ball lightning is rarely seen, and its cause and nature are the subject of a number of hypotheses.

These range from it being a form of St Elmo’s Fire - a harmless electrical effect often seen aboard ships - to it being caused by a tiny antimatter meteor reaching ground level.

The phenomenon is extremely difficult to study scientifically because it appears very rarely and very unpredictably. Since so little is known about it, ‘ball lightning’ has been used as a handy explanation for many reported mysteries, including UFOs, spontaneous human combustion, and the Star of Bethlehem.