TEN residents of a Saltcoats street had to flee their homes in the early hours of Saturday morning after a suspected sinkhole caused cracks to appear in a building.

Parts of Sharphill Road remained closed this week after the emergency evacuation.

Specialist engineers are now examining the road and buildings – which were built on old coal mines.

Those who fled the scene are now in emergency accommodation.

One resident, Steph, who lived in one of the eight homes which were affected, told the Herald: “I was sitting in my living room on Friday night just quietly reading my book.

“It must have gone about midnight and I could hear a bit of commotion outside.

“I could hear a younger man say that he had heard a noise, but I didn’t know what that was, then there were two more neighbours who said that a crack began to appear down their wall.

“Whilst I had been sitting at night, I could hear a noise like gravel.

“But you just don’t think something like that would happen.

“The next thing neighbours came to the door and said the firemen said we needed to get out.”

Steph added: “I decided to grab a bag and I am lucky I could stay with a friend down the road who could take me in.

“We were told it was the coalmine underneath the house, there are so many round about there. One theory is that they were filled up with trees and that has now rotted away.

“The coal board is there just now. There are engineers, geologists, you name it! We’ve been allowed back to pick up some of our things, but we just don’t know.

“I’m just not sure how far this is going to go, I don’t think this is anywhere near the end of the story.”

Residents were evacuated around 2am and the road remains closed.

Police diverted traffic to alternative roads whilst a multi-agency response investigation the scene.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Several residents in Sharphill Road, Saltcoats, have been evacuated from their homes after we received reports of building safety concerns around 1.50am on Saturday, September 25.

“Diversions are in place to allow further enquiries by the emergency services and partner agencies.”

The Coal Authority has now confirmed they are undertaking an investigation.

Ten people are currently living in temporary accommodation after their houses were deemed unsafe.

Specialist engineers have been deployed to the site – where it is understood to be built over a network of existing coal mines – to establish the cause of the ground problems.

Large areas of Saltcoats and wider Ayrshire have been built on previous coal mining land.

A spokesperson for the Coal Authority said: “At 1.50am on Saturday, September 25, 2021, Emergency Services were notified of an incident of damage to property in Sharphill Road, Saltcoats, Ayrshire.

“Ten residents from eight properties in Sharphill Road were then evacuated as a safety precaution.

“Specialist engineers from the Coal Authority deployed to the site and worked with Emergency Services to assess the extent of the damage and ensure the safety of the site.

“We are now carrying out a number of physical investigations to determine whether the incident is coal mining-related.

“If these investigations show that the cause was due to historical coal mining activity, then the Coal Authority will undertake any remediation work that is required.

“Our thoughts are with those families affected by this incident. Our On-Site Support team is working with those directly affected and has made special provisions to enable residents to collect urgent and essential items.

“The site is cordoned off and members of the public are asked to observe the restrictions at the site to allow work to proceed safely.”

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