FIREFIGHTERS have issued a warning to motorists after rescuing a woman whose car got stuck in floodwater.

Crews were alerted when the woman drove into the water on the West Stafford bypass near Dorchester which has been hit by flooding again.

The road has been closed numerous times over the winter due to flooding and trapped motorists attempting to drive through.

Road closure signs have again been put up following another bout of heavy rain but the woman who was rescued said the sign on the Highgate Lane side of the flood had been knocked over.

She was assisted by a team from Dorset Fire and Rescue Service who waded into the water and pushed her car to safety.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said as she had been stuck in her car, lorries and cars continued to drive past her through the floodwater.

The woman, who lives locally, said: “It was terrifying. It wasn't too bad at first but then a wave of water came over the bonnet and that was it.

“I think most people who live around here know that this is a bad spot for flooding, but as there was no sign there I thought it would be ok.”

She added: “I want to say thank you to the fire service. They were absolutely amazing, and so calm and lovely.”

A spokesman for Dorset Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that the sign was broken when firefighters arrived at the scene, and that the local authority had been informed.

Station manager Stu Jeneson said drivers are taking a 'massive risk' by ignoring signs.

He said: “Big lorries are continuing to drive through, but they have a much higher wheel base.

“I think car drivers are seeing that and assuming they will be able to get through, but it's very easy for cars to become stuck.”

He added: “If a road is closed, there is a reason. We would urge motorists not to drive through and put themselves and us at risk.”

Gordon Shaw, who represents the village on the Knightsford Group Parish Council, said the situation is 'getting beyond a joke'.

He said: “There are quite a lot of signs saying the road is closed but a lot of people do not take any notice.

“When we have had heavy rain it can be three feet deep in places.” Coun Shaw added: “The bypass seems to be closed every other week, which means traffic comes through the village where there are no footpaths.

“Something needs to be done about it.”

The parish council is due to discuss the issue at the next meeting in West Stafford Village Hall on April 12.

Derek Bateman, who lives in the village, said: “It is a bit ridiculous that they built a bypass that can't be used every time it rains.

“It means we get a lot of traffic through the village, which is a nightmare.”

'Take note of signs' says council

A SPOKESMAN for Dorset County Council said: “We have put out road closure signs, cones and barriers on the West Stafford bypass.

“We have also placed advanced warning sign at main junctions before motorists reach the bypass.

“For their own safety we advise people to take note of the warning signs and not drive through floodwater.”

“Unfortunately there is nothing we can do in the short term.

“The county’s roads have been badly hit over a particularly bad winter which followed one of the wettest summers on record.

“This has made groundwater levels dangerously high.”