Writer Will Self is lucky to be alive after the roof of his house collapsed "with a tremendous roar while he was inside with his family.
The journalist and author led his children to safety after the roof came down along with several of his neighbours' in Stockwell, south London, on Tuesday evening.
"It was like the front of my house fell off" he told the Evening Standard.
"I got the children out to the back of the property because it was all about to go.
"Once things had stopped falling off I got them out through the front door. Somebody could have been killed."
Self's wife, Guardian columnist Deborah Orr, wrote about the incident on Twitter.
She said: "Our house, and the four neighbouring houses, are OVER. But no one is hurt and we're staying with @blackdogyellow tonight."
She later added: "No one knows what caused it yet, but it's emergency services central. Helicopters, the lot."
London Fire Brigade confirmed it sent four engines and a fire rescue unit to the scene just before 9pm, with firefighters helping one elderly woman to safety.
Watch manager Simon Phillips said: "Firefighters helped an elderly woman to safety and a further 16 people left properties before we arrived.
"There was a lot of rubble in the street and we used a thermal imaging camera over the debris to make sure no one was trapped underneath.
"It's a busy road and it's very lucky nobody was walking outside otherwise they could have been seriously injured."