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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Building collapse shuts Cumbrian road

A house collapsed into a river in Cumbria today.

The whole street has been sealed off after the end-terrace house dramatically crumbled into the rain-swollen River Ehen.

Police said they were considering evacuating other properties in Vale View, Egremont, after the house tumbled into the river early this morning.

Elsewhere, a number of homes in Penrith Road, Keswick, were evacuated amid fears of a possible collapse after the River Greta swept away part of the riverbank.

Emergency service workers in Egremont reported a smell of gas.

The alarm was raised just after 6am when residents were woken by a loud rumble and a splash as part of the house crashed into the river.

Stunned house owners Ken O’Hara and Belinda Taylor were alerted by the police earlier today. They had been staying in the Black Beck hotel, which they also own.

“I couldn’t believe it when the police told me, it’s unbelievable,” Mr O’Hara said.

“It just shows what can happen. Luckily there was no-one in at the time it happened. It would have been awful if there were.”

He said the top two floors of the four-storey home were rented out to Sellafield workers, who were also not there last night as they had been away for the Bank Holiday.

The couple, who live in the bottom two floors, stood watching helplessly as their possessions were battered by raging waters. They salvaged what they could, building a pile by the water’s edge.

Police and ambulance crews cordoned off the road as there were fears that more of the houses could collapse at any time.

Inspector Phil Davidson, at the force’s HQ in Penrith, said several officers were at the scene, along with a fire crew, and officials from the Environment Agency.

Engineers are investigating because of concerns about the electric supply and the possibility of a gas leak.

He said: “We are trying to determine whether we need a wider scale evacuation of the area. The house involved appears to have been an end terraced property, so there may be the potential for one or even more than one other property to be affected.

“We are working with partner agencies to determine the severity of the structural damage to other properties.”

Catherine Alvino, from Mill Cottage, opposite the house, said she didn’t know what had happened until this morning when she saw the devastation.

“It’s been a horrendous summer and the river had been up and threatening,” she said. I feel really lucky because I haven’t even flooded but so sorry for the family. It’s just lucky the house was empty.”

Edna Braithwaite, of Bridge End Park, said that people had been in touch with the Environment Agency to say the river level was high and there had been problems.

“There were fears that something like this could happen,” she said. “It was an awful night last night so I’m not surprised. If it wasn’t a bank holiday yesterday, the Sellafield contractors would have been there. The rain never stopped all day long.”

Inspector Davidson confirmed that there have been no casualties reported.

The property affected fell into the river from the back after days of heavy summer rain, which has caused minor flooding at several locations in the county.

The Environment Agency confirmed that the River Ehen was put on flood alert at 10.30am yesterday.

But the level of flooding never reach a level sufficient to trigger a flood warning. The Ehen’s average height in recent weeks has been 06.99 metres but at its peak during the last 24 hours it reached 2.094 metres. A flood warning is triggered when it reaches 2.2 metres, so it peaked at just below that level. “The river’s level is now falling,” added a spokeswoman.

Firefighters were also called out in Low Moresby, near Whitehaven and to a property between Harker and Blackford, north of Carlisle, to pump away flood water that was threatening houses.

Have your say

Its all very well the Environment agency washing its hands and saying well its not ours, same as the backroad between Gulley Flatts and Becermet that has now been closed for years due to erosion, no one wants to fix that either, the main duty should be to protect people, as bad as this is it would have been a tragedy if the house had been fully occupied.

Posted by Mark on 30 August 2012 at 15:45

just to put lornalou right reads was next door the building in question was a mill before it was turned into flats

Posted by james on 30 August 2012 at 00:32

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