Newton Abbot explosion leads to power-out for 20,000 South Devon homes
THOUSANDS of homes and businesses across South Devon lost power yesterday morning after an electrical explosion at a Newton Abbot sub-station.
Up to 20,000 properties and businesses in Torquay, Newton Abbot and Ashburton were plunged into darkness after a fire at the Brunel Road sub-station shortly before 11am.
Western Power Distribution says it is investigating the incident.
The power loss affected hospitals, council offices, retailers, major traffic junctions, businesses and homes.
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The traffic lights at the busy Lawes Bridge and Shiphay Lane junctions went off along with the A380 at Penn Inn roundabout.
Other knock-on effects included firefighters getting rescue call outs after the loss of power left people stuck in lifts.
Firefighters were mobilised after reports of an explosion in the Brunel Road area of Newton Abbot at just before 11am.
A spokesman for the fire service said: "We had a number of reports of an explosion. Two appliances from Newton Abbot were sent to the sub-station.
"They confirmed there had been a fire involving electrical transformers. It was already out on their arrival.
"Electrical engineers also attended."
A Western Power Distribution spokeswoman said: "At 10.55am 19,622 customers were affected by a loss of power supply.
"Our priority was to get as many customers back online in the quickest time possible.
"Engineers managed to get most back on within the hour. Most were put back on power in waves in order to prevent any further problems.
"The cause of the outage is being investigated and originated from a sub-station on Brunel Road. That investigation is ongoing."
In the immediate aftermath the fire service dealt with calls to people stuck in lifts in Newton Abbot at the Job Centre, in Kingsteignton Road; Wilkinsons, in Market Walk Shopping Centre, and Marks and Spencer, at The Willows, Torquay.
Newton Abbot watch manager Phil Scammells said: "We have been kept very busy with a number of people trapped in lifts and automatic fire alarms going off all over the place."
Torquay-based Inter-Line (South West) Ltd was just one company affected.
Sales and marketing manager Jason Winser said: "We were out for about an hour. It caused a little bit of chaos but we are a well organised company so we just put our emergency plan into place and were back out working and serving our customers very quickly."