Pensioner's house hit by fire engine

AN 84-year-old woman today told how she narrowly avoided death when a fire engine ploughed into her house while on an emergency call to a blazing Ipswich pub.

AN 84-year-old woman today told how she narrowly avoided death when a fire engine ploughed into her house while on an emergency call to a blazing Ipswich pub.

Widow Violet Tye was sitting on her bed in her Bramford Road home when the turntable ladder crashed into the terraced house.

Today she spoke of her relief that a twist of fate had seen her sitting on the bed in the front room and not in her usual chair by the window.

Mrs Tye, a former laundry worker who has lived in the house since 1954, said: "It was dreadful. The truck came right through the windows.

"I saw this bit of red and I thought it was the terrorists.

"I was sat there and I thought there were going to be flames soon. I thought 'I have got to get out'."

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The accident happened after the fire engine collided with a car moments earlier. It had been on its way to a suspicious fire at Churchills pub, further along Bramford Road.

The turntable ladder, which is based in Ipswich, came to rest against the front of Mrs Tye's house, destroying a bay window.

Mrs Tye, who lives alone and suffers arthritis in both legs, said: "I was sat on the bed and somebody shouted 'is anybody there', I said 'yes and I need help' because I couldn't get off my bed.

"A neighbour came in and picked me up and took me to the kitchen.

"It was my birthday on Tuesday and my birthday cards were still stood up on the mantlepiece and sideboard. Now everything is covered in dust.

"I've never seen anything like it."

Today Mrs Tye's niece, Rita Taylor spoke of her auntie's lucky escape.

She said: "She sleeps in that room because she has not been very well. She said she heard an almighty bang. She thought it was a bomb.

"She's very shocked and shaken but she's ok. She's lucky she's alive."

A woman in her 20s, who was driving a M-reg Vauxhall Corsa, was taken to hospital with injuries that were said to be serious but not life threatening.

It is believed she had been exiting Tower Mill Road at the time of the crash, which happened at about 10.10pm yesterday.

The male driver of the turntable ladder was said to be shaken but not injured following the crash.

Margaret Ingram, of Bramford Road, recalled hearing two almighty noises.

She said: "I just heard this horrific bang. I was in bed and we heard these two crashes."

Deborah Browne, 29, lives next door to the property that was hit.

She said: "I was upstairs and I heard several fire engines go past and then I heard this one come down the road.

"I felt and heard this almighty crash. Then the siren went dead. That was the freaky bit."

Assistant Divisional Officer Karl Rolfe, of Suffolk Fire Service, confirmed the turntable ladder had its blue lights flashing at the time of the accident.

He said: "It had been requested at a fire scene further down Bramford Road and has been involved in a road traffic accident en route.

"We are assessing the structural safety of the house and, along with the police, we are commencing our own serious accident investigation."

Assistant chief fire officer Graham Smith said today that engineers from the specialist company which makes turntable ladders were investigating the appliance today to assess the extend of the damage.

The service's only other turntable ladder is based at Bury St Edmunds, but that is currently out of action for routine repairs so a ladder was called in from Essex.

Mr Smith said when the service's own vehicles were out of action they had an agreement with neighouring fire authorities to call in theirs.

He said: "That's what happened last night - and if the situation had been reversed we would have gone to Essex."

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