Book-burning students accidentally wipe out power in 135,000 buildings

PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 July 2015 | UPDATED: 15:45 24 July 2015

The fire was burning 'for hours'. Picture: James Whitelock (

The fire was burning 'for hours'. Picture: James Whitelock (


Rebellious students who set fire to their books on the last day of school inadvertently wiped out the power in 135,000 buildings, the Recorder can reveal.

The fire can be seen in the background. Picture: James WhitelockThe fire can be seen in the background. Picture: James Whitelock

Almost all of Havering and parts of Essex were without electricity for half an hour after a blaze that badly damaged 30-metre cables in Hacton Lane, Upminster, on Tuesday afternoon.

Shopping centres and supermarkets were among the buildings evacuated, while traffic lights stopped working, alarms sounded and phone signals went down.

And it is believed to have been caused by students conducting an end-of-year ritual.

Georgia Edwards, 18, of Bevan Way said she was taking her brother to the park when a group of school children ran towards them.

Firefighters at the scene. Picture: James WhitelockFirefighters at the scene. Picture: James Whitelock

“They told me to turn around,” she said. “Fire engines were there and out of nowhere a fire started. Kids were running away and told us they saw kids setting fire to their school books.

“Apparently they were burning planners and stuff. We all just watched.”

People took to social media to vent their frustration at the lack of electricity.

Two estate blocks in Rainham were without water for most of the night, while business owners complained of a loss of trade.

Others had to leave their shopping at the tills as stores were evacuated – and one man was worried his Playstation had overheated.

Thick black smoke could be seen in the sky until the blaze was extinguished at 7pm.

The causes of the fire is under investigation by police, London Fire Brigade and UK Power Networks.

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