A MAN has died after his van crashed in a field near Blandford and caught fire.

Police are investigating the collision, which happened in a field near to Whatcombe Lane in Winterborne Whitechurch on Friday afternoon.

Police received a call from the fire service at 5.42pm reporting a vehicle on fire. It was reported that the vehicle, a red Peugeot Expert van, had left a farm track and ended up in the field.

The ambulance service was also called to the scene, however the driver of the van, a 54-year-old man from the local area, was pronounced dead at the scene. There was nobody else in the van and no other vehicles involved.

Residents living in the area told the Echo they'd been aware of emergency services activity along Whatcombe Lane, towards the Winterborne Whitechurch end of the road on Friday late afternoon and early evening.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: "Personally I don't know who the driver was but it is quite a shock to learn someone has died along here.

"I'm not sure if the van was actually on the lane or on a private track leading off it.

"Either way, my thoughts go out to his friends and family."

Police Sergeant Craig Tatton, of the traffic unit, said: “The man’s next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specially-trained officers at this difficult time.

“We are carrying out a thorough investigation to establish exactly what happened and I am appealing to anyone who witnesses the incident, or who saw the vehicle in the area around the relevant time, to contact us.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting incident number 1:364. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.