Shoppers had a miraculous escape when 50 metres of scaffolding fell into a busy Corby town centre street.
The scaffolding fell about 20 metres from the top of Chandos House in Queen’s Square to the ground.
Eye witnesses described an almighty crash and shoppers running away from the scene.
The scaffolding ran the full length of the shopping parade from Dorothy Perkins to the entrance to the multi-storey car park.
Workers had been using it while they renovated top floor flats.
It smashed glass canopies and brought signs above each shop to the ground.
There were no injuries but three people were treated for shock.
The Health and Safety Executive was called to the scene along with police, ambulance, firefighters and a specialist rope team from The Mounts fire station in Northampton.
The incident happened at about 2pm today. Shops in Queen’s Square including Askews, Jane Norman, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans and Select were shut for the rest of the afternoon but are expected to reopen tomorrow.
Town centre manager Dan Pickard was standing just ten metres away when the collapse happened.
He said: “There was just an unbelievably loud banging noise and we saw people just running away from the where the scaffolding had fallen.
“We are very, very grateful that no-one was injured.
“Three people were treated for shock but I think they are going to be OK.
“The scaffolding was at roof level so fell quite some distance. We are now working with the Health and Safety Executive to work out exactly what happened.
“We’d like to apologise to shoppers and the shop workers for the inconvenience.”
Workers from Desborough Scaffolding Services began clearing their scaffolding from the scene as soon as the HSE allowed them to.
Specialist rope firefighters ensured their safety as they did so. The whole length of scaffolding has now been taken down for the duration of the investigation.
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Group Manager Mick Conlon said: “We sent out two appliances, one from Corby and one from Kettering as well as the rope team.
“Our job was to make sure the scene was secure.
“The scaffolding has fallen at least 20m and it’s an absolute miracle that no-one has received any injuries.”
Eye witnesses said they saw women having a cigarette in the exact spot the scaffolding fell just seconds before. A sign pulled from the front of the Select store was pierced where a scaffolding pole had gone straight through it.
They said blue netting designed for protection acted like a kite and carried the scaffolding away from the building.
Witness Sue Henley, 44, from Corby’s Danesholme Estate was working in Jane Norman when the scaffolding fell.
She said: “I heard it first then I ran to have a look what had happened.
“It was like a massive clap of thunder.
“Friday is usually early closing in the factories and Corby and it’s always busy but thankfully it hadn’t been so busy today. God knows what would have happened if it had been a Saturday.”