A YOUNG mother fled her home after she feared it would collapse after being hit by subsidence.
Chelsea McLellan found large cracks in the walls of her home in Dean Road, South Shields, after a burst water main had been discovered at the rear of the property just hours earlier.
Miss McLellan, 23, her 15-month-old daughter Isabella, and the family next door, were evacuated by fire crews who were called to the scene. Tests were still being carried out on the homes yesterday to determine the cause and extent of any damage
The drama began after Miss McLellan returned to her upstairs flat at 6pm on Tuesday to pick up some clothes for her daughter while she stayed with her mother, Tina, 50.
Northumbria Water workers fixed the leak at about 7pm on Tuesday night, with building surveyors from the organisation on site yesterday, along with building inspectors from South Tyneside Council, to try to determine if it was linked to the subsidence.
The downstairs flat in Miss McLellan’s property is unoccupied.
Miss McLellan said: “I had come home to pick up some clothes for my daughter and noticed there were big cracks on the wall.
“I came running downstairs and told my mum and she called the fire brigade. I’m just glad my mum was here with me as I don’t know what I’d have done.
“I was petrified. I thought the house was going to fall down.
“The fire brigade arrived and helped us to collect belongings. I couldn’t fault them.”
Tina, 50, added: “The floor was starting to give way. There were cracks on the walls.
“I’m just so happy that my daughter and grand-daughter are safe. It was so scary.”
Miss McLellan is a tenant in the privately rented flat, but is due to move to a new property next week.
She will be staying with her mum until she makes the move.
A Tyne and Wear Fire Service spokesman said: “We were called by a resident at one of the properties, one of which is a terraced house and another a house converted into two flats.
“There is major subsidence in their properties, with cracks on the walls.
“The homes had to be evacuated.”
A Northumbria Water spokeswoman said that investigations into the cause of the subsidence are still ongoing.
She said: “We received a report at 2pm of a resident having no water.
“We went out on site and found no leak was visible. We carried out further tests and found it was a leak underground and we repaired it.
“We are working with other agencies to help with investigations to understand the cause of the condition of the properties.”
South Tyneside Council’s Building Control department were notified about the incident by the fire service at 6.30pm on Tuesday.
They say that as the properties involved are privately owned, officers attended only to advise the occupants to seek alternative accommodation for the evening and to notify their insurers.
The council was informed that investigations into the cause of the subsidence are still ongoing.