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Strong winds see tree crush van in St Johns Church Road, Folkestone


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A man had a lucky escape after a tree came crashing down and landed on his van just seconds before he was about to get into it.

Alain Austin was just heading back to work when the tree fell in today's strong winds – which were up to 35 miles an hour.

A tree has crushed a van in Folkestone this afternoon in high winds. Photo: Peter Phillips
A tree has crushed a van in Folkestone this afternoon in high winds. Photo: Peter Phillips

It went through the windscreen, smashing the glass, and caved in the roof of the cab.

The tree fell in St Johns Church Road in Folkestone at lunchtime.

The road was closed and police and members of the council were called.

Mr Austin, owner of A&A Clearances which deals with house and rubbish clearances, said: "I had just left home and was about to get into my truck when I heard a crack and it came crashing down.

"The fire brigade said I should buy a lottery ticket as it is my lucky day.

The van for A&A Clearances was parked when the tree hit it. Photo: Peter Phillips
The van for A&A Clearances was parked when the tree hit it. Photo: Peter Phillips

"If I had been in the cab it could have crushed me.

"It is inconvenient as I have a lot of work on and the van is now probably a right off, but it could have been much worse."

The tree has also caused damage to a second vehicle.

Mr Austin added: "I have phoned before about that tree as it is big and it does sway in the wind. Today has obviously taken its toll."

A spokesman for Kent Police said: "Kent Police was notified at around 12.35pm that a tree had fallen down in St Johns Church Road, Folkestone, and caused damage to two vehicles.

Tree surgeons have worked to remove the tree. Photo: Peter Phillips
Tree surgeons have worked to remove the tree. Photo: Peter Phillips

"The vehicles were unoccupied and no injuries have been reported.

"Officers are in attendance and have closed the road for safety reasons. Tree surgeons and KCC Highways are also at the scene."

At Willesbrough in Ashford, people looked on in disbelief as a large tree came crashing down in the recreation ground off Hythe Road at about 3.30pm.

It was witnessed by Kyle Stingemore, who said: "The wind just blew the tree completely over.

"It ripped out the ground to the floor in seconds! Wasn’t gradual, it just went with a bang."

The fallen tree in Willesbrough. Picture: Kyle Stingemore
The fallen tree in Willesbrough. Picture: Kyle Stingemore
Kyle Stingemore's daughter Esme-Lynne on the fallen tree in Willesbrough. Picture: Kyle Stingemore
Kyle Stingemore's daughter Esme-Lynne on the fallen tree in Willesbrough. Picture: Kyle Stingemore

Elsewhere in the county, the QE2 bridge was closed due to the strong winds. The closure meant traffic had to use one of the tunnels instead, which led to huge delays of many miles in both directions on the M25.

It also caused gridlock on the A2 and other routes in the area as drivers tried to avoid the motorway.

Ferry services between Dover and Calais are also facing delays of up to an hour.

The A21 at Flimwell, near Tunbridge Wells, was also partially blocked in both directions from B2079 Lady Oak Lane to Kilndown Turn off due to a fallen tree.

It comes as the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning across Kent which was in force until earlier this evening.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone

For all the forecasts, warnings and weather related news, click here

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