PHOTOS: Pick-up truck is dragged into the sea at Sidmouth and Ottery’s bonfire is under floodwater after Storm Ciaran hits East Devon

The sea dragged a pick-up truck off the front at Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary’s iconic tar barrel bonfire is under feet of floodwater after Storm Ciaran raged across East Devon.

Scores of warnings and alerts are in place across East Devon and the Environment Agency has warned properties are at risk of flooding as rain-hit river levels remain high.

The stricken vehicle was last seen early this morning (November 2), being ‘dragged out to sea by the breaking swell’.


The truck was dragged into the sea at Sidmouth.
Photo: Sem Harry Crest


Sidmouth Lifeboat was called out to a truck that had gone into the sea.
Photo: Kyle Baker.


The flood-hit bonfire at Ottery.
Photo: Angela Atkins Phillips.


Firefighters received a ‘distress call’ to Sidmouth seafront on Wednesday night (November 1) after it was reported a pick-up truck had ‘plunged’ into the stormy sea.

Fearing people could be trapped inside the 4×4, firefighters said they were ‘uncertain’ what they would find, adding the occupants were ‘undoubtedly fortunate to have escaped unscathed’.

A Sidmouth fire station spokesperson said: “Fire control received a distress call regarding a 4×4 vehicle that had plunged into the sea off the Esplanade. The situation was uncertain, as it was unclear whether anyone was trapped inside the vehicle.

“As a result, the Sidmouth crews, along with the specialist rescue team from Exmouth Fire Station and two flexi duty officers, were swiftly mobilised to the scene.

“Upon arrival, the courageous crews were met with challenging conditions – heavy seas, strong winds, and torrential rain, all relentlessly battering the 4×4 vehicle, which was lying overturned on the Port Royal beach.

“Determined to ensure the safety of potential occupants, the vehicle was secured using winching equipment typically employed for fishing boats.”

Firefighters continued an ‘exhaustive search’, joined by paramedics, police, Sidmouth Independent Lifeboat crew, and Beer Coastguard, in a bid to determine if anyone had been inside the truck.

The Sidmouth fire station spokesperson said: “After an exhaustive search, it was confirmed by family members that all the individuals involved had managed to escape the vehicle unharmed.”

They added: “The occupants of the vehicle were undoubtedly fortunate to have escaped unscathed.”

Police confirmed the emergency services were called to Sidmouth seafront at 8.30pm, flowing a report of an ‘unattended car on the ledge of a boat ramp’.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokeswoman said: “Emergency services were called at 8.30pm on Wednesday 1 November to Sidmouth Esplanade following a report of an unattended car on the ledge of a boat ramp.

“The vehicle was pulled into the sea by the waves.

“Fire, ambulance, and Coastguard attended.

“The vehicle was secured by the fire service for recovery when conditions are safe.”

East Devon

Fields near Broadclyst under water.
Photo: East Devon News.


Heavy rain has swollen River Otter levels.
Photo: Ross Campbell.


Floodwater on the outskirts of East Devon on Thursday morning.
Photo: East Devon News.


Floodwater on the outskirts of East Devon .
Photo: East Devon News.


Ottery’s November 5th bonfire is under water.
Photo: Angela Atkins Phillips.

Sidmouth Independent Lifeboat crew was paged shortly after 9pm after the 4×4 vehicle had been dragged into the sea from the eastern end of the Esplanade.

A spokeswoman for the lifeboat crew said: “Weather conditions were Force 10 winds with large waves breaking across the road.

“It was confirmed that the occupants of the vehicle had managed to get out safely.

“With no possibility of recovering the vehicle at that time due to sea conditions, all responders were stood down.”

She added: “The vehicle was last seen at 7am this morning and was soon afterwards dragged out to sea by the breaking swell.”


The bonfire at Ottery.
Photo: Angela Atkins Phillips.


The river on the edge of East Devon, near Killerton.
Photo: East Devon News.

East Devon

Floodwater on farmland at Broadclyst.
Photo: East Devon News.

east Devon

Ottery’s bonfire surrounded by floodwater.
Photo: Ross Campbell


The swollen river at Ottery.
Photo: Ross Campbell.

The county council reported 80 fallen trees blocked roads across the county, including the A3052 between Sidmouth and Newton Poppleford, the B3180 over Woodbury Common, the London Road at Cranbrook.

In Limers Lane, Dunkeswell, a tree fell on a car, but no-one was injured, the county council said.

Floodwater on Thursday morning made several roads in East Devon impassable, said the county council, including Station Road at Hemyock and Chard Road at Weycroft in Axminster.


The webcam on Sidmouth seafront  on Thursday afternoon (November 2).


The webcam on Sidmouth seafront showed the conditions on Thursday afternoon.

Scores of schools in Devon closed for the day, the Met Office issued weather warnings and the Environment Agency released a raft of flood warnings and alerts for all parts of East Devon as Storm Ciaran battered the UK.

  • Flood warning area: Riverside locations and roads between Broadclyst and Clyst St. Mary, including Broadclyst, Ashclyst, Clyston Mill, Sowton Barton, Newcourt Barton, the A3052 at Clyst Honiton, and the B3181 at Broadclyst.
  • Flood warning area: Riverside locations and roads between Cullompton and Stoke Canon, including Woodmill, Hele, Silverton Mills, Rewe, Huxham, Old Mill Trading Estate, the A396 at Stoke Canon, the B3185 at Silverton, and the Exeter to London Paddington railway line.
  • Flood warning area: Low lying properties and roads around Stoney Bridge and Castle Hill in Axminster.
  • Flood warning area: Riverside locations and roads between Winsham and Axminster, including Chard Junction, Coaxden Cottages and Weycroft.
  • Flood warning area: Riverside locations and roads between Yarcombe and Axminster, including Long Bridge, Case Bridge, Beckford Bridge and Yarty Bridge.
  • Flood alert area: Exposed coastal areas at Dawlish Warren, Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Branscombe, Seaton.
  • Flood alert area: Lympstone, Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Honiton, Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth areas.
  • Flood alert area: Exposed coastal areas at Dawlish Warren, Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Branscombe, Seaton.

The Environment Agency (EA) said: “Heavy rain falling in the East Devon area will continue throughout Thursday causing the River Clyst to rise.
“Flooding is possible to properties and low lying areas around Ashclyst Farm, Burrow Bridge, there is likely to be deep road flooding in the Burrow area, Broadclyst Bridge, Clyston Mill, Dymond’s Farm, Sowton Barton and properties and farms between Clyst St. Mary and Topsham including Newcourt Barton and Cotts Farm.
“Flood waters may be deep and fast flowing in these areas. Residents are strongly urged to take action now.

TheEA added: “Heavy rain falling in the area will continue to fall throughout the morning causing the River Axe to rise.”

News from across East Devon – including stories from Exmouth, Sidmouth, Axminster Lympstone, Sidbury, Honiton and Ottery St Mary

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