Plumber's van explodes in Burnley street

The van after the explosion
The van after the explosion
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A well-known Burnley plumber had a lucky escape when his van exploded just seconds after he had parked up.

Gary O’Neill, who is also a former Burnley town centre bar owner, was travelling along Pendle Way in the town on Tuesday when the smell of smoke began wafting through his Citroen Berlingo van.

When clouds of smoke appeared, Gary (49) made the wise decision of pulling over and getting out of the van – just seconds before it exploded.

Gary, from Pike Hill, said: “I had just been to pick up some parts for a job when I suddenly smelt smoke.

“I thought at first there must have been a fire outside, but then the van started filling up with smoke so I pulled over and got out.

“I was standing outside the van and a passing postman said I should move away. About ten seconds the whole thing just went up.

“The van had my tools and parts in which have obviously all been destroyed. Luckily no-one was injured or worse, which is the main thing.”

Fire-fighters arrived quickly to douse the flames as neighbours.

Gary said he has now been loaned another vehicle from a friend and is currently buying new tools and parts so he can work over Christmas.

Such was the apparent danger that pupils from nearby St Mary Magdalene Primary School, who were playing outside on their break at the time, were escorted inside when the van caught fire.

It is not known what caused the explosion.