THIS week, 15 years ago, there was disruption as thunderstorms brought chaos to the region.

Lightning bolts hit train lines near Darlington and the torrential rain caused flooding in tunnels on the Tyne and Wear Metro system.

Hundreds of children enjoyed a day off when schools were left without power.

And some homeowners woke up to fire as their houses were hit.

For 81-year-old Mary Jones, in Hartlepool, she had realised her house was on fire when she was planning to hide in a cupboard from the storms.

Her neighbour Graham Marshall ran to the rescue after he saw lightning strike her house and set the front room on fire.

In Stanley, County Durham, Phil and Helen Dodd were alerted to a fire on their roof when they were woken by a loud bang and their smoke alarm.

Mr Dodd said: "There was smoke in the room which disappeared, but then came back again. I went outside and saw flames coming from the roof."

Also that week, bookstores prepared for the highly-anticipated release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Some shops began selling the book at 12.01am and stepped up their security as fans queued up to be the first to grab the book.

Ottakar's, in Darlington, took 1,000 orders for the latest epic and had every member of staff at work.

Manager Diane O'Neill said: "It just seems to be so much bigger than the last one, it's absolutely unbelievable."

A Tesco spokeswoman said it sold 317,400 copies in the first 24 hours – an average of 220 a minute – and Amazon said the novel broke internet sales records with more than 1.3 million advance orders worldwide.

Meanwhile, a battleship sailed up the River Tyne for a 25th anniversary trip to its spiritual home.

HMS Newcastle berthed at Spiller’s Wharf and gave members of the public the opportunity to visit the ship.

The ship's commanding officer, Commander Jeremy Blundell said: "The ship's company and I are very much looking forward to this visit, the first for some time.

"Commanding HMS Newcastle is made doubly special by the strength of her affiliation with the city."