Tree poisons axemen

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The Independent Online
File workers are recovering after being poisoned by a rare tree. One tree surgeon had to be rushed to Torbay Hospital when he suffered a violent reaction to the Japanese-type tree he helped chop down in Torquay's Cockington country park.

A spokesman for Four Counties Forestry, the firm clearing the tree , said if they had to tackle another "Varnish" tree they would wear chemical suits and breathing apparatus. The tree is related to poison ivy.

"It was like something out of the X-files," said the Four Counties boss Roland Fursdon, who was taken ill together with his son Lloyd,his brother Richard, and two other colleagues.

"It looked as if the disposal crews were taking away nuclear waste, not logs" he said.

The victims suffered serious skin "burns" after the 40ft tree was felled at the request of Torbay Council in the grounds of Cockington Court. Lloyd, 22, was worst affected as his skin reacted to the sap. According to his father his skin was rumpled and folded and his head swelled to twice its normal size. Roland explained: "We had full protective gear on. But it got through our thick gloves and clothes and you could also breathe it in."

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