independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Family escape as tree hits house

A fallen tree lies against a house in Kingstanding, Birmingham after being brought down by high winds

A family had a narrow escape after high winds brought down a 30ft (9m) tree on top of their home.

The house's three occupants were unharmed when the lime tree crashed into their front garden in a suburb of Birmingham this morning, as storms continued to batter the country.

At one point the family were trapped inside their home in Kings Road, Kingstanding, with the tree's large branches blocking access to the front and back doors.

The large tree appeared to have been torn up by the roots, coming to rest across the footpath and covering their garden.

Had it fallen in the opposite direction - across one of the city's busy main roads - the consequences could have been much worse, according to crew commander Paul Stephens, of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service.

The family declined to comment but one neighbour expressed concern about how sturdy the dozens of other trees which line the street are, given that the bad weather is forecast to last into the early new year.

"The first I knew about it, my neighbour pointed across the road at the tree that had come down and said to me 'You missed the excitement this morning'," said a man living opposite, who declined to give his name.

"It's a worry because there's a similar tree right outside my house which has been making some awful creaking noises."

Mr Stephens said his crew were called at 10am, after a report that people had been trapped in their home by a falling tree.

"There were three occupants - a family - within the property," he said.

"The ambulance have spoken to them and given them a check-over, and there's no injuries, they're all OK and accounted for."

He said the fire brigade's immediate concern after checking over the family had been to make the scene safe, ahead of the arrival of tree surgeons and a structural engineer.

A surgeon did arrive shortly afterwards, to section the tree with a chainsaw - revealing only minor damage to the edge of the terraced house's roof and its guttering.

Gerald Birch, area surveyor with housing association Sanctuary Housing which is responsible for the property, said at first glance the house appeared to have escaped significant damage but a more thorough assessment would be carried out.

"I'm assessing what the nature of the damage is and whether the residents can stay in the property, and if not, to arrange to have them moved somewhere else," he said.

"It doesn't look like it's that bad - some damage to the roof of the front bay window, the gutter and the soffits."

Press Association

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