Cancer, lightning hits ‘nicest bloke’
SCARRED: Tina Weatherall comforts her dad, Joe, in front of his home, which burned after a lightning strike to the garage. Picture: Simone De PeakLAST year he was diagnosed with bowel cancer – and yesterday a lightning strike caused his Cameron Park home to go up in flames.
With no insurance and fire destroying half of his Harris Street property, Joe Weatherall said he wasn’t sure what he was going to do.
He and his wife are foster carers to two young kids, aged three and four.
Mr Weatherall was home with them and other family members when the storm hit the Newcastle region about 3pm.
They described hearing a deafening bang and a flash of light, before the adjoining garage became engulfed in flames.
Mr Weatherall’s daughter’s partner, Chris Kirby, said he was sitting outside and saw it happen.
‘‘I was 10 metres away when it hit, it was that loud I couldn’t stand on my feet,’’ he said.
‘‘The scariest thing was my 10-month old was inside with four kids. It was terrifying.’’
Mr Kirby said flames then came out of the garage’s roller doors while they rushed everyone outside safely.
Firefighters fought the blaze for 40 minutes and said the heavy downpour didn’t provide any help – it only hindered them in getting to the scene faster.
The lounge area of the home was destroyed, along with family photos and furniture.
The severe damage was the last thing that Mr Weatherall needs to deal with.
This month he had to leave his job at an industrial galvanising site at Hexham because it had become too physically demanding.
Last March he received a diagnosis for bowel cancer, and had surgery soon after.
He has been advised he doesn’t need chemotherapy at this stage.
‘‘It’s pretty bad luck – we were the only house in the street to get lightning,’’ he said.
‘‘I was in the garage when fire started in the back right-hand corner.
‘‘I’m pretty upset but I’m grateful everyone got out OK and there were no cars in the garage.
‘‘I’ve lived there for 14 years.
‘‘I don’t know what we’re going to do; we’ll just struggle and get by.’’
Mr Kirby said that it wasn’t fair that ‘‘the nicest bloke’’ had suffered such a run of bad luck.
‘‘He’s the nicest bloke, he has worked his whole life and he had to stop because of the cancer because it became too physically demanding,’’ he said.