A TOW truck pulling a tanker full of Calor gas was left hanging over the parapet of a bridge in an accident at a notorious Torrington blackspot on Saturday. Properties had to be evacuated and the roadway at Station Hill was closed for five hours while eme
A TOW truck pulling a tanker full of Calor gas was left hanging over the parapet of a bridge in an accident at a notorious Torrington blackspot on Saturday.Properties had to be evacuated and the roadway at Station Hill was closed for five hours while emergency crews dealt with the complex and potentially deadly situation.The tow truck was pulling a tanker containing 12,000 litres of gas when it went through the wall of the bridge on bends at the bottom of Station Hill, a main access road to Torrington at around 4.45pm.It was left hanging over a 40 feet drop to the former railway line and industrial yard below, its driver and another man still inside its cab.The large gas tanker it was towing remained on the roadway, but was levered six feet off the ground by the impact.Firefighters from Torrington and Bideford were called to the scene. Bideford Station Manager Graham Rooke said the tow truck was left with only one wheel on the pavement, but was halted by a tree.It took a long time to stabilise the vehicle, he said. Another recovery vehicle was called and attached a steel cable to the gas tanker while a heavy crane was used to attach chains to the tow truck.Because of the potential of explosion from the gas tanker nearby properties, including some homes and the Puffing Billy public house and were evacuated and the road was closed for five hours.The driver of the tow truck and another man in the cab, believed to have been the driver of the broken-down tanker, were treated at the scene and taken away by ambulance. Neither was seriously hurt.But the situation could have been "very nasty" had the vehicles gone over the bridge, with the potential of the tanker being damaged, or had there been other vehicles coming up the road or people beneath the bridge on the Tarka Trail walkway, said Mr Rooke.Station Hill has been the scene of at least two road deaths in recent years and a number of other accidents. Local people have campaigned for improvements.Jan Withey and her family were evacuated from their home close to Saturday's scene.She told the Gazette: "I was told that if the gas tanker had gone up my house would have been no more. Had the lorries gone straight through and over the bridge no-one could have stopped it happening."There have been a lot of accidents there. This was at the same spot as a young girl lost her life in a car accident about 18 months ago. The lorries just missed the flowers which are still left there in her memory. It was not long ago that the wall was mended and now there is a big hole there again."I have lived here for 25 years and there have been more accidents than I can count on two hands. I feel there should be a crash barrier, although it would probably not have stopped what happened this time. It could have been so much worse."Torrington district councillor Margaret Brown said: "This is a very dangerous area, as shown by the number of accidents we have had there and, hopefully, the highways department will look at it and see if anything can be done. But it will be difficult because of the restrictions of the road going across a bridge."A police investigation is being conducted into the cause of the accident, including expert examination of the vehicles.