Firefighters on flooding alert as river water levels rise

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Firefighters in Lancashire have been placed on red alert for potential flooding after reports the River Ribble is close to bursting its banks.

The Environment Agency has issued flooding warnings for homes and businesses close to the River Ribble in Walton-le-Dale and the River Darwen in Higher Walton.

A Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said Leyland Road in Penwortham is also believed to be at risk of flooding as the water level in the Ribble continues to rise.

The Environment Agency Floodline said: "A flood warning has been issued covering properties on the south bank of the river and Walton Bridge.

"Flooding of homes and businesses is expected."

Fifty school pupils have already had to be rescued from a stranded schoolbus on the A59 in Sawley village, near Clitheroe, close to the River Ribble.

The incident happened at around 8.30am on Wednesday as strong winds and rain lashed the county.

No one was injured and the bus was towed to safety.

But the bad weather has sparked traffic chaos and flooding across Lancashire.

A motorway lane was blocked after a car hit the central reservation on the M6.

Tailbacks built up around junction 31 of the northbound M6 at Preston after the accident at 7.47am on Wednesday.

It is believed a car has lost control and hit the central reservation, blocking the fourth lane of the carriageway.

No other vehicles were involved.

The Highways Agency also reported flooding around junction 31, which led to delays.

Further up the M6 two lanes are blocked between junctions 33 at Galgate and 34 at Lancaster following an accident, when an HGV crashed close to the Lune Bridge at junction 34.

Neither accident resulted in serious injuries, but the driver of the HGV was released from his cab by firefighters and taken to the Royal Lancaster Infimary as a precaution.

Meanwhile, Watling Street Road around Fulwood Barracks was filled with water as the drains struggle to cope with the influx of water.

Flooding was also spotted in Cop Lane, Penwortham, at the entrance to Government Buildings, causing traffic problems.

There were problems at both side of Hill Road South, and Penwortham Hill.

There were also pools of water in Broadgate where residents struggled to access their cars in Meadow Court, off South Meadow Lane.

Motorists were experiencing problems in Station Road, Bamber Bridge, due to standing water linked to drainage problems.

In Singleton stormy weather uprooted a tree in Lodge Lane, narrowly missing a passing car and leading to the road being closed.

Elsewhere in the county police have warned the A59 heading out of Gisburn, East Lancashire, towards North Yorkshire is flooded and drivers are being advised to avoid the area.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service crews were called to flooding incidents in Rawtenstall and Lower Darwen on Wednesday morning.

*Meanwhile two Lancashire schools have been forced to close for the day because of the flooding.

Bolton-by-Bowland CE Primary School, near Clitheroe, will be closed all day after staff were caught up in rush hour problems.

Flooding in the area meant the school's headteacher David Lloyd was stuck on the motorway and only one member of staff had managed to make it to work by 8.30am.

The Rose School, in Burnley, is also closed.