A bolt of lightning caused a house fire when a storm lashed the Midlands yesterday afternoon.

The lightning also struck the overhead powerline of the Midland Metro, causing a three-hour suspension of services.

Firefighters were called to Prospect Lane in Shirley when a blaze broke out in the loft while the property's owners were out.

A spokesman for West Midlands Fire Service said they received the call to the detached two-storey house at about 1.40pm.

"About 20 per cent of the roof space was affected," said a spokesman. "Nobody was in the property at the time. We confirmed with the Met Office that the cause of the fire was lightning."

At about the same time lightning struck a section of the overhead line of the Midland Metro in Priest-field, Wolverhampton.

Trams, many between stations, were stopped on the route between Birmingham and Wolver-hampton when the bolt trippped electricity breakers.

Engineers worked in the driving rain to repair the damage.