HEAVY snow meant residents had to leave their homes amid fears a roof would collapse.
One of Sunderland’s busiest roads had to be closed for more than a day and people in three houses at The Westlands, in Chester Road, had to get out of their homes while the situation was assessed by council bosses.
Fears were raised after one resident living on the terrace of houses spotted almost a foot of snow and clusters of sharp icicles hanging precariously from the roof top. A dangerous crack could be seen in the brickwork.
Police put up a cordon and stopped cars from travelling along Chester Road between Colchester Terrace and Ewesley Road while experts from the council inspected the site and made it secure.
Student Zhao Zhen Hong, who lives in one of the homes that was evacuated, said the problem started when his housemates and he heard a huge bang coming from the roof.
The 23-year-old said: “Last week I heard a very big sound and I thought it was the roof crashing down.
“I told my friend and he said it was just snow falling from the roof.
“On Friday night, I heard another two loud sounds and it was more ice and snow sliding off the roof.
“Saying that, though, I didn’t expect to see this when I walked out the door. It’s unbelievable.”
Northumbria Police said officers were alerted at 10.30am on Saturday.
An initial assessment of the house revealed the heavy snow and ice building up on the roof was causing the upstairs bay windows to buckle under weight, as well as a dangerous crack in the brickwork.
Neighbour Paul Dewhurst said: “I came down this morning and looked up and got the shock of my life when I saw it.”
Residents living in the house and their immediate neighbours were advised to leave their homes while the situation was evaluated.
They were then advised to use their back doors and residents living near by were told to stay indoors while they assessed the situation.
Chester Road was brought down to one lane in the afternoon, but was closed again yesterday after further inspection.
The road was reopened later on Sunday.
A police spokesman said: “We received a report at 10.30am on Saturday of an upper back window of a house on The Westlands, in Sunderland, partially coming away from the house.
“Police cordoned off the house and a section of path as a precaution.
“A structural engineer was in attendance.”