Lucky escape for cop as storms fell tree

Fallen tree Mansfield Road, Heanor. January 5th, 2012.
Fallen tree Mansfield Road, Heanor. January 5th, 2012.

GAlE-FORCE winds caused havoc around Ripley and Heanor on Thursday, uprooting trees and even bringing down town Christmas lights.

An 80ft tree nearly crashed on top of a police car as it was ripped from the ground at around 3am on the day.

NBENpl120106a1, Gordon and Winifred Faulks by the 100 year old beech tree felled by wind in their front garden.

NBENpl120106a1, Gordon and Winifred Faulks by the 100 year old beech tree felled by wind in their front garden.

An officer was travelling along Mansfield Road in Heanor when the 100-year-old beech tree came down in 70mph gusts.

Owner of the tree Gordon Faulks could not believe what had happened when the lucky officer knocked on his door to tell him.

Mr Faulks, 64, said: “I saw the blue flashing lights but even then I didn’t understand what had happened.

“Looking at the bright side though, the tree has come down in the best possible way - it has damaged my fence but it’s missed next door and no-one was hurt.

NBENpl120106b1, A cherry picker replaces a set of Christmas lights on Church Road in Ripley

NBENpl120106b1, A cherry picker replaces a set of Christmas lights on Church Road in Ripley

“If it had come down during the main hours of the day, with the traffic down here being horrendous, it would have fallen across the road and the chances of someone being hit would’ve been very likely.”

Mr Faulks, who lives in the 18th Century Mansfield Road home with wife Winifred, 59, called private firm Tree Hugger and Sons to help with the clear up operation.

Owner of the Langley Mill company, Drew Patterson, said there was no way the Faulks could have known the thick-based tree, which stood in their front garden, would have been felled by the high winds.

Mr Patterson said the firm had also managed to raise £90 for the Derbyshire Wish Foundation - as the tree surgeons sold pieces of the chopped up beech tree wood to passers-by.

Both sides of Mansfield Road had to be shut while the clean-up took place. One lane was moving by 11am with traffic redirected along Hands Road.

Elsewhere, the gales nearly brought down a 30ft tree at Codnor Gate as it was left leaning dangerously. Derbyshire County Council attended to fell the tree before it collapsed.

And a set of Ripley’s Christmas lights were brought down by the bad weather.

Police reported how a good samaritan driver stopped to warn others that the lights on Church Street in the town had fallen and were dangling dangerously in the road. A county team remained on-site throughout the day using a cherry picker to replace the fallen lights.

In the East Midlands, 10,000 homes were left without power. Elsewhere in the country, the Penines in North Yorkshire saw wind speeds reach 112mph on the blustery Thursday morning.