A RECKLESS theft at a Widnes electricity substation caused an explosion and major fire, putting homes and lives at risk.
More than 100 homes and businesses were left without power for nine hours on Moorfield Road in Halton View. ScottishPower has condemned the criminals and the police are appealing for witnesses. The power company is working closely with officers to catch those responsible. A reward of up to £10,000 will be paid to anyone who provides information that leads to a conviction. It is the latest in a spate of dangerous substation thefts across Merseyside and the north west. There have been 20 separate incidents reported across the region since April. Stephen Stewart, director of SP Energy Networks, said:
“The criminals involved in these kind of thefts are risking the safety and wellbeing of local residents. “Their irresponsible action shows a total disregard for members of the public. “They are all too aware that tampering with electrical equipment can result in power cuts and could even cause fires in nearby homes but they couldn’t care less about the harm and disruption they cause.”
One woman told her neighbours she saw a man running away from the substation seconds before the explosion.
The fire started at around 11am on Thursday. Staff working at nearby Joanne Claire hairdressers said they heard the blast. Left with no power, they had no alternative but to close the salon. They say they not only lost business on the day but also future appointments as their telephone line was also cut off. Elderly residents relied on their neighbours with gas cookers to make hot drinks and meals. Power was eventually restored at 8pm.
Anyone with information can call Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 389 of May 5. Alternatively, people can call the power company SP Energy Networks’ 24-hour hotline on 0800 001 5400 from a landline or 0330 1010 400 from a mobile.