Devizes family dice with death clearing fallen tree
When David and Soraya Pegden and their two children helped clear a fallen tree away from a road near their home during Monday’s storm they had no idea they were just yards away from live elecricity cables.
The couple, and children Kofi, 14, Solomon, 13, and six-year-old Demelza, were woken shortly after 5am by a 60ft tree in the grounds of Devizes School crashing down across Nursteed Road, just yards from their home. They hadn’t realised it also brought down a power cable.
Solomon, a member of 6th Devizes Scouts, said: “I was woken up by a bright blue flash of light and then a bang. I thought it was thunder and lightning but dad said a tree had come down.” The family dressed in high-visibility jackets and went out to see what could be done.
Mr Pegden fetched his chainsaw and began attacking the huge trunk. He said: “It wasn’t entirely altruistic. We have a wood burning stove and this will see us through the winter.”
The family cleared enough of the road for traffic to pass single file and Solomon took charge of directing it.
Mr Pegden said: “He made a few mistakes at first and had two cars coming straight for each other, but he soon got the hang of it.
“Someone from Wiltshire Council came along and I thought, that’s it, they’ll stop us doing this now. But all he did was lend Soraya a hi-viz jacket and went away again.”
They were joined by a security officer coming off duty and an employee at DS Smith Packaging on his way to work.
It wasn’t until engineers from Scottish and Southern Electric arrived shortly after 8am that they realised the peril they had been in for the previous three hours.
They told the family that the power lines were live and that they were closing the road until further notice.
Mr Pegden said: “We saw the cables hanging down but thought they were telephone wires. We just didn’t think we were in any danger.”
Solomon added: “The cables were hanging so low lorries couldn’t get past. I saw a skip lorry caught on them.”
Homes in the area were without power for most of the day, only being reconnected just after 3pm.
Trees were also reported down in Pans Lane and Potterne Road near the entrance to The Breach. The church room at St Barnabas in Easterton had its roof damaged by a falling tree and Kings Road was closed for a while.
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