ALFRETON TORNADO: ‘It’s a miracle nobody was killed’ – senior fire chief

Tornado hits Catherine Street, Alfreton.

Tornado hits Catherine Street, Alfreton.

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A senior firefighter has said it was a miracle nobody was killed when a mini-tornado ripped through Alfreton.

The freak weather struck Catherine Street at about 3.30pm yesterday – causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Four homes were severely damaged – including one which lost its roof – and dozens of other properties were affected.

Dean Gazzard, Alfreton station manager, said: “It’s a miracle nobody was seriously injured or killed in this incident.

“The mini-tornado left a trail of destruction as it travelled down the street.

“We often deal with cases of severe weather but I’ve never attended anything as serious as this,” he added.

Firefighters worked well into the night to attempt to retrieve personal belongings from a number of stricken properties.

Several residents whose homes were deemed structurally unsound stayed in temporary accommodation overnight and are now awaiting news on when they can return to their properties.

A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council this morning said: “We’re currently working with Amber Valley Borough Council to assess buildings.”

Volunteers with the British Red Cross and the Salavation Army have been at the scene providing emotional and practical support to traumatised residents as well as handing out food.

Mr Gazzard added: “The community has really pulled together to help each other in the face of this major incident.”

Residents on Catherine Street have told the Derbyshire Times of their shock at the drama.

Adam Broadley, 32, said: “I looked out of the window and for a moment I thought we were in the eye of a hurricane – everywhere was dark, it was windy and it was raining like mad.

“There were roof tiles and wood flying all around us.

“Thankfully our home hasn’t been damaged but I can see one house with a roof missing.

“There’s a lot of shock in the area – you don’t expect this type of thing to happen in the UK, let alone on your own street.”

Shelly Yeomans said: “Trees were being snapped like matchsticks and a branch hit one of my friend’s cars.

“Unbelievable, dramatic stuff.”

Another eyewitness said: “It was a terrifying day.”

Yvonne Bihari, who lives nearby, added: “I heard an almighty bang and wondered what on Earth had happened.

“We had a lucky escape.”

The Met Office said the mini-tornado was caused by unstable weather conditions.

A spokesman for the organisation said: “Although tornadic activity is by no means common across the UK, it does occur on occasions when the atmosphere is suitably volatile.”

Keep checking back for updates.