Ripon sinkhole: Woman's lucky escape after hole appeared in garden

Frances O'Neill who almost fell into a sinkhole which opened up in Ripon Credit: PA

A 74-year-old woman described her lucky escape after she almost fell in a 30ft deep sinkhole that appeared in her back garden.

Seven properties were evacuated in Magdalen's Road, Ripon, on Wednesday night, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said.

No-one was injured when the huge hole opened up at around 10.30pm behind the row of terraced homes, but it could have brought the propertiesdown had it been closer.

Frances O'Neill said she was woken by a "tremendous noise" and almost fell in when she went out on to her back patio to investigate.

An engineer inspects the damage after a sinkhole appeared in Ripon Credit: PA

I was just going down the steps into my garden and I put a foot down and then I realised the steps were moving, or had gone.

Ripon resident Frances O'Neill

Fire officers directed residents to the pub over the road where Mrs O'Neillsaid she had a stiff drink.

The Fountains Abbey worker described herself as a "fairly stoic kind ofperson".

The hole was mainly in the back garden of hernext-door neighbour Ben Bramley, 43, a project manager with bookmakers William Hill.

Residents in three of the seven evacuated homes were allowed back while four occupants were advised to move out.

Fire station manager Ben Cairns said three people were put up on camp beds last night by the fire service, while others stayed with relatives or in hotels.

He said: "The sinkhole measures 15m by 15m and we anticipate it is 30ftdeep."

Speaking about the effect of the hole, he said: "It could have been worse.

"If it had been any nearer the properties we would have seen structuralcollapse or damage, bearing in mind this is a row of terraces, who knows what the extent of that could have gone."