NEIGHBOURS have told of the moment a 70ft tree plunged to the ground outside their homes.

People living in Tanner Close Chippenham said there was a massive crash as it came down on to the garages, cars and an area used by children to play.

Rich Bolwell was just yards away from the tree on Canal Road when he realised it was falling at 11am on Sunday.

“I was walking back with my shopping,” he said, “when the tree started to move about 40 feet to my right.

"The beam was very long and a considerable size and it could have killed someone.”

Heidi Poyser who lives in Tanner Close said: “The children often play where the cars are at hide and seek. We had just gone out and we came back and we couldn’t believe it.”

“I was out the back with my three children,” said neighbour Natasha Giddens, 43, “and I heard this almighty crash. I came running out to the front and the tree had fallen on to a car and garages.

“All the neighbours came running out, it was really dramatic. There are usually young children playing where it fell so we were lucky.”

Ian Poyser said: “My car was buried under the tree and had taken a real thump. If it had been parked where my other car usually is it could have smashed the roof and windscreen.

"It happened at about 11am, a contractor came out and began to free my car by cutting through the branches.”

The rest of the tree was cut down and removed on Monday.

But locals fear the Wiltshire Council owned trees on Canal Road still pose a problem. The council confirmed the trees were the responsibility of the highways division and its contractor removed the damaged tree and branches.

A council spokesperson said: “We are in the process of identifying and checking other trees in the area we are responsible for as a precaution.”

Mrs Giddens said: “My husband was away for the weekend so I was home on my own with the children.

"The noise frightened the two little ones and my eldest thought the tree was going to fall on our car so she was extremely worried.

"I’m just glad she wasn’t outside playing as she usually is.”

Chartered engineer Mr Bolwell said he examined the tree and said it was not the wind that had brought it down. “There was a stress joint and I think the fracture face where the bow joined the tree just gave way.”