Firefighters have described how a rabbit came to end up on a roof in the middle of a fierce storm, and why they ended up launching a rescue bid.
They were called to rescue the startled animal in Omagh, Co Tyrone on Friday morning.
The gale force winds literally swept the rabbit off its paws and deposited it high up on a house roof in the Deverney Road area of the town.
A team from Omagh Fire Station used ladders and a water rescue pole to bring the rabbit back to terra firma.
The rescue operation took almost 45 minutes.
The storm had cut off electricity to homes across the Province, and in Co Antrim, the Dark Hedges – an avenue lined with old and impressive beech trees – was badly damaged by the winds.
The pet rabbit is now to be renamed Gertrude after the storm that blew it up onto the roof.
It was formerly known as Bumper.
It appears the pet’s “hare-raising” experience was due to not battening down the hutches outside the Deverney Road property.
A gale force gust swept the animal’s wooden home into the air on Friday morning and sent it crashing toward the building.
District Commander of Omagh Fire Station David Doherty said the rabbit had a lucky escape.
“The wind caught the hutch and sent it flying into the air and it has catapulted the rabbit out of the hutch and onto the roof,” he said.
“Now the hutch has come down and smashed, so it was probably lucky for the rabbit that it did come out.”
Mr Doherty explained why firefighters chose to respond to the unusual request for help.
“It’s not the sort of thing we would usually go to, but because of the conditions, it was so windy, we were scared if we didn’t go out and deal with this, a member of the public would try to go up and end up getting injured or worse,” he said.
“The guys went up on the ladders and used a really long reach pole we use for rescuing casualties out of water and we used that to basically coax it down off the roof. It came to the top of the ladder and the guys were able to carry it down.”
He said the residents of the home were now going to re-name their pet.
“They are going to re-name it Gertrude now after the storm, because of the adventure it’s had,” he said.
Mr Doherty said the escapade had caused a storm of public interest since he posted it on Twitter on Friday morning, and he hoped to use that to highlight the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service’s adverse weather safety messages.
“We want to get the message out to tell people to be safe in power cuts, to make sure their smoke alarms are working, be safe using candles and be careful on the roads,” he said.
“We’d much rather be getting a good news story rescuing a rabbit off a roof than having to go out to rescue someone from their home or their car or worse.”