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Whaley Bridge: Fifth night of pumping for Newark and Collingham fire crews as dam emergency continues


By Abigail Hunt


Fire crews from Newark and Collingham entered their fifth night of pumping as the Whaley Bridge emergency continues.

They are among many firefighters across the Midlands attending to the collapsing dam that began to flood on Wednesday.

As fire crews attempt to reduce the amount of water in the reservoir, surrounding areas and towns are being advised to evacuate in case the dam bursts.

Fire crews from Newark and Collingham are still helping with Whaley Bridge. Photo credit: @NottsfireOnCall. (14840164)
Fire crews from Newark and Collingham are still helping with Whaley Bridge. Photo credit: @NottsfireOnCall. (14840164)

"Our high volume pump (HVP) was mobilised to the incident, alongside other HVPs from across the country, to bring the level of water within the reservoir down to reduce the risk to the surrounding area," said a Newark Fire Station spokesman.

"The service’s welfare unit and fuel bowser were also mobilised to provide further support."

The Newark crews' watch manager, Neil Gaskin, said the fire service has their boat team on standby to attend if the need arises.

Fire crews from Newark and Collingham are still helping with Whaley Bridge. Photo credit: @NottsfireOnCall. (14840161)
Fire crews from Newark and Collingham are still helping with Whaley Bridge. Photo credit: @NottsfireOnCall. (14840161)

He said: "We are going to have to see over the next few days what is going to happen, especially with the weather as well."

Fire services have been working around the clock alongside 12” civil engineering pumps and have been able to reduce the water level by a total of 7.8 meters.

Over the last 24 hours, pontoons have been put in place on the reservoir to float the pumps to enable continuous pumping as the water level recedes.

This takes away the need to constantly relocate pumps to ensure the efficient and effective removal of water. Pumping will continue until engineers and specialists deem the dam safe.

Fire crews from Newark and Collingham are still helping with Whaley Bridge. Photo credit: @NottsfireOnCall. (14840166)
Fire crews from Newark and Collingham are still helping with Whaley Bridge. Photo credit: @NottsfireOnCall. (14840166)

Watch manager at Collingham Fire Station Wayne Brooks said his crew has been working around the clock since Thursday afternoon.

"The crew are working to reduce the volume of water in the reservoir to take the pressure off the wall so the engineers can get in and mend it," he said.

"It is very tiring work for them and they're being given eight hours of stand down time, but they need to be on hand in case they're needed in a hurry."

It is thought the fire service could be at the scene for several more days.

Derbyshire’s Chief Fire Officer, Terry McDermott and Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Gavin Tomlinson have been overseeing the fire and rescue service’s response to the incident at Toddbrook Reservoir.

They have paid tribute to the residents of Whaley Bridge, the army of volunteers helping to keep people on the ground fed and watered and the emergency services responding from Derbyshire and beyond.

"We hope to have the water at a safe level late this morning (Tuesday) or by lunchtime, to allow specialist engineers to inspect the dam and feedback about its safety," said Mr Tomlinson. "This inspection will have to take place before any decision regarding the return of residents can take place.

"The priority of the incident has always been the safety of the residents of Whaley Bridge and they have been incredibly resilient throughout the evacuation. Fingers crossed for them and hopefully we can give them some good news very soon."

A third residents meeting is scheduled for 5pm today at Chapel High School, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire.

At 6.30pm a business surgery will be held at the same venue.

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