THE driver of a crane which burst into flames, becoming a roaring inferno within seconds, has spoken out about how lucky he was to escape unharmed.

Myles MacInnes, from Wark, was behind the wheel of the crane when it caught fire, with the blaze spreading quickly through the vehicle.

But instead of making a quick escape, Myles managed to drive the blazing crane into a layby, away from nearby houses.

Myles, who has been driving cranes for 20 years, said he had never seen one catch fire so quickly.

“It’s not the first time I’ve seen it happen, but it’s the quickest I’ve seen one go up.

“I was coming into Rothbury and the crane just caught fire. I couldn’t stop it there – it was too close to the houses, so I pushed my luck and got it into the layby.

“I didn’t start realising how serious it was until I got out of the crane. I just thought ‘I’m getting it away from these houses’. I got a bit of a shock when I got out.”

Emergency services were called to the road near Armstrong Cottages at around 7am on Tuesday last week.

The fire caused parts of the crane to fly through the air and damage nearby houses.

Eight people had to be evacuated, and a section of the road between Rothbury and Otterburn was also closed for much of the day, but no-one was injured.

Despite the dramatic incident, Myles says he wasn’t scared at the time.

However, the gravity of the situation soon started to sink in.

He continued: “I wasn’t scared at first. I was on automatic pilot. I had something to focus on. I didn’t have time to panic.

“I managed to get in touch with my wife before she saw the coverage, but she was still worried.

“I look at it now and think ‘how the hell did I get out of that?’ Someone was on my side that day.

“I have to thank the people of Rothbury – the people who came out of the damaged houses.

“They looked after me and offered me tea, they were just too nice. That’s what I see as a true village.”

Police are not treating the fire as suspicious and believe it was caused by a vehicle defect.

An investigation by Northumberland Fire and Rescue was unable to find the cause.