Blackout after substation theft

HUNDREDS of residents were without electricity for nearly 24 hours following a theft at a Mansfield electricity substation.

The incident, which occurred just before 10pm on Wednesday at the substation on Bould Street, led to extensive damage being caused to some houses’ electricity meters and fuse boxes and even caused at least two small fires.

John Haddrell, managing director of Midway Housing in Mansfield, which owns a property on nearby Chesterfield Road, said that it has raised major safety concerns.

A power surge caused by the tampering at the substation blew the electricity meter off the house wall, causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage by scorching the wall, melting the meter and causing smoke damage.

“The meter was blown completely off the wall and a small fire ensued which fortunately didn’t take hold,” he said.

“It’s got serious implications for people who live near substations.

“I would never have believed it could happen - I just thought your power would go off, but to see burns and fire in a property because a substation has been tampered with is beyond belief.”

Steve Morris (40), who lives in the Midway Housing property, said that they were left without any lighting or heating and all of the food in their freezer defrosted.

“We were sat in the pitch black because we had no candles and I had to sit in the house waiting for the electrician to come, so couldn’t even go anywhere to get warm,” he said.

“It was absolutely freezing.”

A spokesman for Central Networks said that they pulled the fuses for 130 properties after the copper earthing tape - which prevents power surges - was stolen from the substation.

Power was back on by 9.40pm on Thursday but only after residents had had the wiring in their homes checked out.

He said that there is “an increasing problem” of thefts of copper earthing tape from substations and that anyone served by the substation is then at risk of a power surge.

• Richard Johnston (38), of Arundel Drive, Mansfield, pleaded guilty to a charge of burglary other than a dwelling at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court on Friday. He was remanded in custody for sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court.