Upminster fire power cut hit 135,000 buildings

The fire was burning 'for hours'. Picture: James Whitelock (flickr.com/97194147@N06/)

The fire was burning 'for hours'. Picture: James Whitelock (flickr.com/97194147@N06/) - Credit: Archant

Power was wiped out in 135,000 buildings across Havering and Essex yesterday when a fire spread to electrical cables.

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

The fire can be seen in the background. Picture: James Whitelock - Credit: Archant

Romford, Gidea Park, Hornchurch, Harold Hill, Upminster and Rainham were all hit at about 4.20pm, as well some areas of Essex including Brenwtood, Ockendon and the Intu Lakeside shopping centre in Grays.

Fire crews were called to Hacton Lane, Upminster at 3.40pm after two 30-metre cables running along the bridge over the River Ingrebourne were “badly damaged” by a grass fire.

Firefighters at the scene. Picture: James Whitelock

Firefighters at the scene. Picture: James Whitelock - Credit: Archant

The power outage lasted almost 30 minutes, causing chaos as buildings were evacuated, traffic lights stopped working and water supplies were cut off.

There was another 15-minute interruption just after 5pm before power was fully restored but thick black smoke could be seen in the sky until the blaze was put out at 7pm.

https://twitter.com/RoseShalloo/status/623529763878080512

UK Power Networks confirmed to the Recorder that 135,000 buildings had been hit.

James Whitelock photographed the fire and the aftermath from his home in Clement Way.

https://twitter.com/Occasionaldance/status/623529889371713536

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He said: “Every one was out on the street to see what going on.”

People took to social media to vent their frustration at the lack of electricity, with some feeling the effect into the night.

https://twitter.com/___JACOBS/status/623512812548132864

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

Others complained of having to leave their shopping at the tills as stores were evacuated – and another was worried his Playstation had overheated.

https://twitter.com/CpfcPeter/status/623528416810270720

The causes of the fire is under investigation.