PEDESTRIANS were almost crushed when a huge tree came crashing down into an Oxford road.

A mass of leaves and broken branches completely blocked Longwall Street in the city centre last night, after a tree fell on a brick wall and landed where passersby would have walked just moments later.

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Firefighters and police were sent to the scene shortly before 9pm, and closed the road for safety. 


Pic: Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Fire crews said they initially thought someone was trapped beneath the tree, after a wallet was seen abandoned on the ground next to the foliage. 

One 19-year-old who was walking nearby wrote on Twitter that she and her friend were 'nearly crushed.'

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Pic: Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

The woman, who asked not to be named, told the Oxford Mail: "My friend and I were coming down Longwall Street from The Pilch [studio theatre], it was raining really lightly and there was no wind whatsoever.

"We were about 10 metres from the tree when all of a sudden there was this enormous long crack, and we saw the tree start to keel over and had to run back in the direction we were coming from or we could’ve been hit.

"The tree fell into the road, as soon as we were sure nothing else would fall, a few boys ran in to check no one was underneath, and firemen arrived within five minutes."

The tree standing tall in Longwall Street before the incident last night

She described the incident as 'bizarre' as the tree appeared to be healthy and the weather was 'mild,' suggesting that the branches had simply become too heavy with leaves.

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Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said it was called at 8.52pm and two fire engines from Rewley Road and Slade Park attended, along with the hydraulic platform and the chainsaw team from Kidlington.

A statement issued by the service this afternoon said: "Crews were initially called to reports that a large tree had fallen onto the roadway on Longwall Street in Oxford with unconfirmed reports that a passer-by may be trapped beneath the foliage.


Pic: Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

"When they arrived crews were faced with a large tree that had completely blocked the road and had damaged a large wall next to it.

"Onlookers could not confirm whether anybody was trapped beneath the tree and the discovery of a wallet nearby raised the possibility of a person being trapped."

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Crews used thermal imaging cameras to search for signs of life and chainsaws to clear the foliage, before concluding that no-one was trapped. 

The statement added: "Working in conjunction with Oxford University, the owner of the wallet was also located away from the scene and uninjured.

"The incident was then handed over to a tree surgery team who would continue the removal and disposal of the tree."

Longwall Street connects High Street with St Cross Road and Holywell Street.

The tree appeared to had fallen from parkland known as The Grove, which part of Magdalen College's estate.

Businesses nearby said the road is open as usual today.