Rothbury explosion latest: Foul play ruled out as road remains closed

Homes have been evacuated following a series of explosions with the public urged to avoid the surrounding area.

Tuesday, 18th June 2019, 08:02 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th June 2019, 15:03 pm

Emergency services rushed to the B6341, near Armstrong Cottages, Rothbury, after a mobile crane caught fire while apparently travelling through the town at around 7.10am on Tuesday.

While Northumberland Fire and Rescue have said that there are no injuries, eight homes were evacuated with residents moved to “rest centres” while debris from the crane is cleared.

The road remains closed on Tuesday afternoon and diversions are in place with the police keen to stress that there are no suspicious circumstances.

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Officers believe the blaze – which apparently caused parts of the crane to fly through the air – was caused by a vehicle defect.

Neighbourhood Inspector John Swan, from Northumbria Police, said: "We understand residents may have concerns about this incident but we are not treating the fire as suspicious.

“A team will remain in the area to make sure the scene is secure and motorists keep to the diversions. If you have any concerns please come and speak to us."

A picture of the Rothbury fire taken by Gazette reader Jason Sumner.

Retired soldier Arthur Hughes, 79, of Croft Road, Rothbury, sent us photographs and video of smoke rising from the scene.

He said: “I was working on my computer at about 7.10am when I heard a huge explosion.

“I thought at first It was something to do with the army ranges not far away.

“But then there was a second explosion which rattled the windows.

Smoke can be seen following a series of explosions near Rothbury, Northumberland

“Soon you could see plumes of smoke and hear sirens and more explosions. There was about four or five in total.”

Councillor Steven Bridgett, an independent member of Northumberland County Council, lives nearby and also heard explosions while he was enjoying a cup of tea.

He said: “It sounded like a bomb had gone off. It was only when I went to an upstairs window that I realised what had happened.

“It seems as though the crane has caught fire while it was travelling through the village.”

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service sent two crews and expect the road to remain closed for “a considerable time”.

A spokeswoman added: “Eight properties have been affected and residents are now in rest centres as a precaution.”