A huge bolt of lightning left 20 householders counting the cost after televisions blew and telephone lines melted.

The lightning struck the aerial of a house in Yewlands Avenue, Blackley, just after 9pm last night sending a massive power surge through electricity cables in neighbouring homes.

There was no one in the first house, but neighbours who rushed in after hearing the fire alarm going off, said the surge had blown the television plug across the sitting room.

Upstairs, they found the TV aerial had melted, singeing curtains and pieces of smouldering plastic from the plug socket were scattered across the bed.

No one was injured, but neighbours are faced with having to replace TVs, telephones and other electrical equipment.

Many of the houses on the road are surrounded by scaffolding for refurbishment work and neighbours wondered whether the metal acted as a conductor.

Shirley Hardie, 41, said: "We'd just left my mum's house and got into the car. I opened my window to remark to my mum about how bad the rain was, then there was a bolt of lightning. It hit the aerial on the neighbour's house. Then we heard a big explosion.

"The fireman said it had travelled through the power lines and into the telephone pole outside."

Firefighters assessed the damage and checked the house over to ensure there was no danger of fire.

They found the lightning had punched a hole the size of a tennis ball in the roof.