Rothbury explosion: Clean-up operation launched as community deals with aftermath of blaze

Families in Rothbury are waking up to the aftermath of a fire which closed the village.

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 11:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 2:05 pm
The carcass of the mobile crane is still in Rothbury. Picture: Colin Burn.

A mobile crane vehicle, which caught fire while travelling through the village on Tuesday, June 18, is now being removed from the scene.

Colin Burn, 75, was at home at the time of the incident.

His property was damaged, with his front room window put through by the force of the first explosion.

He said: “I was awake and I heard the first explosion and my window went through. I thought someone was shooting, but then there were more explosions, and I knew something wasn’t right.

“I went out and could see the thick black smoke and then the flames coming towards me. I thought ‘oh my god’. The flames damaged a few of the trees, but none of them ignited, which is very lucky.

“If it had been half an hour later, school children would have been on the road as they go to school. We were lucky that no one was injured.”

The smouldering wreck in Rothbury. Picture: Colin Burn.

Nearby properties were damaged by flying debris, wheels from the crane, and the shockwave of the explosion.

Armstrong Cottages, which houses elderly residents, had to be evacuated.

A recovery team arrived on Tuesday to remove the smouldering remains; another team were called in on Wednesday, June 19 with the clean-up operation expected to last all day.

The crane was very close to neighbouring properties. Picture: Colin Burn.

The explosions were due to the vehicle’s tyres exploding in the heat of the fire. Wheels were recovered near neighbouring properties and hub caps were found in a nearby estate.

Mr Burn, a retired police officer, praised the emergency services and county council for their response.

He said: “Everybody was really on the ball and pulled together so quickly. The council were there within minutes and put sand down because oil from the vehicle had leaked across the road. I think we all got away lucky that there wasn’t more damage done.”

Northumberia Police closed off both ends to the village, with diversions by-passing the B6241 in place for the rest of Wednesday.

A burning wheel is seen next to properties as firefighters tackle the blaze. Picture: Colin Burn.
Workmen are now tackling the clean-up operation. Picture: Colin Burn.
Recovery crews are now cutting up the crane to remove it from Rothbury. Picture: Colin Burn.