CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

‘The shock of our lives’: Panic in Hampstead after scaffolding collapse

Miracle if nobody was hurt, says ward councillor

07 March, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

The scene in Pond Street

PEDESTRIANS had to run for their lives after a dramatic scaffolding collapse in Hampstead this afternoon (Thursday).

Witnesses said people had to dodge the falling structure in Pond Street, close to the Royal Free. Police have described it as a “major incident”.

Susana Fernandez, 44, and her daughter Carolina Castrillon, 14, say they were seconds away from being hit by the scaffolding. They had left the hospital and we walking down Pond Street when they heard a crash behind them.

“It was about five second after we had walked past,” said Ms Fernandez. “We are still in shock for our lives.” She said there was a lot of dust and smoke after the collapse.

Carolina Castrillon and her mother Susana Fernandez had the ‘shock of their lives’

Hilary Barnes was on the C11 at the bus stop by Marks & Spencer when the scaffolding started to fall.

She told the New Journal: “I was going up towards to Hampstead and we stopped outside M&S  – thank god. As we were waiting there this whole thing, it goes up the whole of the building, it started to very slowly go outward and then it buckled. It was extraordinary.”

She added: “There was an awful lot of screaming. Ambulances were charging down there within seconds.  It looked like the wind called the polythene and the scaffolding came away. I am sure there will be  casualties as it is so busy, with the schools and the Royal Free.  There is no way any traffic is coming through there for a while.”

Hampstead Town ward Councillor Maria Higson said: “I was working around the corner and came down as soon as I heard. The place was absolutely crazy.  Ambulances were  there  straight away and I think everyone is just thankful that no one has been seriously hurt. That’s what we’ve been told.”

She added: “The bricks came down  first. And that’s sort of what seems to have warned people it was about to happen. It’s an absolute miracle. The fire crews are looking at it as if it is just some sort of jigsaw puzzle about how on earth they are going to get it all down. A lady came past and she had foil in her hair – she had came out of the hairdressers underneath where the scaffolding came down and couldn’t get  back in. She was standing there with the foil still in her hair.”

Simon Tuhill, Camden’s fire borough commander, said:: “We are very happy that no one was hurt, we did a systematic search to ensure no one was trapped underneath. The scaffolders are making sure the other parts are secure then we will hand it over to the HSE and police.”

At 5.20pm, The Royal Free said: “We are no longer on standby following the collapse of scaffolding at a building opposite the Royal Free Hospital. Thankfully nobody was hurt in the incident.”

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