Lightning struck three times across the West Midlands as fierce thunderstorms lashed the region on Monday night.
Torrential rain, thunder and lightning threatened to bring parts of the region to a standstill after 40mm water fell in just a few hours.
Firefighters were called to the CarCraft showroom in Wednesbury where four cars were ablaze, while trees in Handsworth Wood and Kings Norton were set alight by bolts of lightning between 9 and 9.30pm.
West Midlands Fire Service said the volume of 999 calls tripled during that time – operators took 360 calls – with most callers concerned about flash flooding and electrical hazards.
At least one motorist was stranded in his vehicle as the force of the water lifted manhole covers.
A fire service spokesman said: “The worst affected area was the west of the region, particularly Dudley and the Black Country.
“The blaze at CarCraft is being put down to a lightning strike since the security guard there reported seeing a blinding flash just before the cars caught fire.
“We managed to stop the flames spreading to other cars for sale nearby, since they were parked very closely. The four cars affected were very badly damaged.”
He added: “Crews coped remarkably well as we were dealing with three times the usual number of calls.”
Forecasters last night predicted an improvement for the rest of the week, with high temperatures and humid conditions in time for the England v South Africa Third Test at Edgbaston.
A MeteoGroup UK spokesman said the Test match would not be a washout but predicted chances of showers.
He said: “It is going to be a case of warm sunshine. There will be a fair amount of cloud around. Looking at the conditions for the bowlers at the cricket, they are looking to win the toss and bowl first.
“There will be sunshine at times but it will still be quite humid for the bowlers.
“There should be a few days play give or take the odd light showers. Going into Thursday there should be some interruption into play and some quite heavy thunder showers around, with still quite humid air.
“Friday is going to be fresher and there is going to be a chance of a few showers but it looks as if we should get quite a decent day’s play on Friday, with sunny spells and variable amounts of clouds. Over the weekend, it is going to be a case of sunshine and showers but there will be quite a lot of play.”
He added that Birmingham would experience temperatures of 24C today and tomorrow and 21C on Friday and at the weekend.