THIEVES who have stripped a Padiham industrial site of scrap metal are putting lives in danger, it has been claimed.
Thousands of pounds worth of scrap metal has been stolen from the former Hepworths site near Hapton. Dozens of manhole and drain covers have been stolen leaving gaping holes on the land off Manchester Road which is to be transformed into Burnley Bridge Business Park.
Copper cables, lampposts and even electricity transformers have also been ripped out by suspected scrap gangs.
But the latest worrying development saw two suspected metal thieves suffer severe burns from an 11,000 volt electicity sub-station on the site two weeks ago. The local men, aged 29 and 41, remain in hospital being treated for burns to the hands and face.
Fears are that more people could be hurt or even killed.
A site insider, who did not want to be named, said: “The site has been systematically robbed of all available cables, transformers and scrap metal, including man hole covers and even lampposts. There are man-sized holes big enough for people to fall down. It is the school holidays now and it’s only a matter of time before someone disappears down one and gets seriously hurt.”
A raid in May also saw metal thieves plunder cables and an elecricity transformer from a disused building on the 70-acre site. The theft plunged Wavin Ltd premises into darkness and the company, which operates a testing facility on the site, has been having to use a generator since May. The cost of reconnection to the mains could reach £40,000.
James Chapman, of Eshton which owns the site, said: “Metal theft is a major problem across Lancashire and the whole of the country. However, now most of of buildings on site have been demolished, we believe this problem no longer affects Pollard Moor Works. That said, we are working closely with the police and residents’ committees to maintain tight security on the site”.