UPDATE: ‘Sparks fly’ as almost 300 Rainham homes lose power

Almost 300 homes in Rainham are still having problems with their electrical appliances after thieves stole cables from an electrical substation yesterday.

The thieves struck the Rothbury Ave substation around 11am – causing appliances to smoke and spark in houses throughout on Brookway, Penerley Road, Rothbury Avenue, Beechwood Gardens, Elizabeth Road and South Hall Drive.

The fire brigade, British Red Cross and UK Power Networks were on the scene soon after.

Crew Manager William Larter from Wennington Fire Station said: “When we first arrived there were people everywhere. When you first get to a fire there’s usually someone directing you straight to the fire, but there were so many people with problems, unfortunately they all had smoking TVs and other equipment.”

The problems were caused because the cable that was stolen regulated the voltage coming out of the substation.

Rothbury Ave resident Don Prill, 73, said: “I heard a banging like a firework going off, there was smoke coming out of my cable box so I turned that off, then I heard popping from everything else and I turned all the power off.

“An elderly person must have had the life frightened out of them.”

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Dave Cummings, of Beechwood Gardens, said: “I heard an almighty bang and there were sparks in my daughter’s room, she was screaming, it was scary. The only solace is that people were at home, the whole street could have caught alight otherwise.”

Michael McGrane, 40, also of Beechwood Gardens, said: “UK Power’s response was good, they were here working until about three o’ clock in the morning.”

Power distribution company UK Power Networks worked to switch off the supplies to people’s homes after the incident, even having to dig in three gardens to switch off mains supplies to people who weren’t in at the time.

The power supply has now been switched back on but hundreds of electrical appliances including boilers and fridges are still not working.

Any residents with queries about their power should call the company on 0800 0284587.

Anyone with information about the thefts should call the police on 101.

More to follow.