Driver cheats death as high winds hit Burnley

A driver cheated death when metal security fencing came crashing down on his van from the Burnley University Technical College site.

Philip Watkinson was lucky to escape after heavy panels, metal poles and concretes blocks were thrown into the road by a freak gust of wind along on Trafalgar Street.

He swerved to miss the falling debris from the £10m. Weavers’ Triangle development site which tore a hole in the side of his van.

A father and his young daughter escaped unharmed as the car behind was also hit by fencing in the accident on Sunday.

Mr Watkinson, of Cardigan Avenue, said: “It was like an explosion. I thought the whole building had collapsed. I was driving along and it just happened in a split second. The whole thing went.

“A fence hit my van and bounced off the roof. It pushed my van about 6ft across the road.

“It could have killed someone with the full force of that metal when you see the size of it.

“A metal pole hit caught the side of it and tore the van open like a tin opener. I thought it was going to come through the window.

“The police said I was very lucky – if the pole had gone through the wind screen it would have been a different story.”

The incident happened at 10-30am along Trafalgar Street where Barnfield Construction is carrying out regeneration work on the Weavers’ Triangle which will be transformed into the new University Technical College.

Strong winds blew the security fencing and other debris on top of the two vehicles. Police were forced to shut off the road for almost four hours while Lancashire County Council highways officials made the route safe.

Steve Riley, contract director at Barnfield Construction Ltd, said: “We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused whilst Trafalgar Street was closed on Sunday.

“Unfortunately freak gusts of wind blew over a section of the site hoardings along Trafalgar Street. As soon as we were informed of the incident we had staff and operatives on site that cleared up the fencing to the satisfaction of the Highways Authority and the police.”