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Hurricane winds hit West Lancashire and leave a trail of destruction

Hundreds of call from residents

Hurricane strength winds hit West Lancashire last Wednesday leaving destruction in their path.

Buildings collapsed, roofs blew off and trees were felled in the gusts that reached 80mph in some areas.

The storm hit all parts of the borough with the emergency services receiving hundreds of calls from residents.

John Taylor, Communications officer at Lancashire Fire and rescue said: “It was an exceptional night, we had over 300 calls but only had to attend around 100 in the end. All of the incidents were relatively minor largely involving unsafe structures. Fortunately most of these did not have large scale damage and no rescues were needed.

“We attended over 100 incidents including 77 unsafe structures including chimney stacks, lost tiles, guttering, signage and falling debris.”

Rail services between Ormskirk and Preston and from Burscough Bridge were abandoned from 6pm due to fallen trees on the line.

In Burscough fire crews were called to Briars Lane petrol station to remove a large corrugated iron roof panel that had come loose in the wind.

At Burscough Village primary school two large trees fell into the school playing field from a neighbouring garden.

In Lathom power lines were struck down in the wind, leaving many households without power for three hours. Trees also blocked roads including Plough Lane and Ruff Lane in Ormskirk.

On Bridge street, Ormskirk safety barriers on the railway bridge blew into the road, with fire crews having to drag them away to avoid a serious accident.

A large tree fell bringing telephone lines with it at Vicarage Lane, Ormskirk, again fire crews managed to move the tree out of the way and called British Telecom to help restore the phone lines.

In Skelmersdale a trolley bay on the ASDA car park was knocked over by the ferocious gales, meaning a part of the car park had to be cornered off to shoppers. And several properties on Tanhouse suffered damage to their roofs.

A barn opposite The Derby Arms in Aughton, completely collapsed during the afternoon, being unable to stand the gusts that were battering against it.

Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw praised the efforts of the county's police officers and staff.

The Constabulary attended 374 weather-related incidents across the county with the worst affected areas including South West Lancashire.

Mr Grunshaw said: "Despite receiving the severe red weather warning at extremely short notice, Lancashire Constabulary's officers and staff did a good job of keeping the county safe.”

West Lancashire Borough Council staff helped the Environment Agency and Lancashire County Council to prevent flooding by working to remove part of a wall that had collapsed into the main watercourse which runs alongside the footpath in Dyers Lane, Ormskirk. The section of wall, had dammed the stream and the water levels were rising to such a level that flooding onto the highway and into people’s homes was a real danger.

In one incident the roof blew off a council property in Hallcroft, Birch Green. Council workers and contractors went out to make the property safe and make sure the tenants were all right. Contractors and council employees also went out to make a council house on the Scott Estate, Ormskirk, safe after a gable wall fell down.

Council staff also worked closely with the county council to respond to reports of a large number of trees having fallen down due to the high winds. Fallen and damaged trees are still being reported and the council will respond appropriately.

Councillor Ian Grant, council leader, said: “I am immensely impressed at the level of commitment and effort put in by council employees. We should all be very grateful for the work that they did to help people through this difficult time. Staff and contractors responded extremely well.”