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Homes hit by power cut

PUBLISHED: 17:44 22 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:57 12 August 2010

BLAZE: Crews dealt with the substation fire which saw residents left without power for days.

BLAZE: Crews dealt with the substation fire which saw residents left without power for days.

NEARLY 100,000 homes and businesses were left in the dark for days after an electricity sub station was set alight by vandals causing a massive power cut.

NEARLY 100,000 homes and businesses were left in the dark for days after an electricity sub station was set alight by vandals causing a massive power cut.

On Monday, properties across Crayford, Bexleyheath, Erith, Orpington and Dartford were left without electricity after a fire, believed to be arson, in the substation in Central Road, Dartford.

Shops, banks, council offices, post offices and schools were forced to close for days as at the time of going to press power was only to be fully restored on Thursday (July 23).

Zak Khan, of Elmstead Road, Erith, said: "The power went off at about 1pm. I was in the middle of my birthday celebrations so it was quite annoying. All the TV and appliances went off so I couldn't even check what was happening on the internet.

"There was no communication whatsoever. Luckily we have a gas stove and I was able get it going. I live in a cul-de-sac and everyone gathered outside and were quite worried about it. There was even talk that it might be a terrorist attack, which was funny."

Mr Khan, who works as a sales executive in Sidcup, added: "One of the funniest things was driving around and seeing the traffic lights down - people were driving really manically."

Power at Bexley council offices went down on Monday lunchtime and shoppers at The Mall in Bexleyheath were evacuated.

Fire crews were called to the substation at 12.38pm and engineers from EDF Energy, which owns the station, worked for two days to restore power. At the peak of the incident, close to 100,000 customers were without power supplies. By Tuesday morning, engineers managed to restore supplies to about a third of customers and provide temporary supplies to more customers on rotation.

Malcolm and Joan Kirkup, of Beechcroft Avenue, Barnehurst, were not alarmed by the blackout due to their World War II experiences.

Mr Kirkup said: "My wife and I are just playing Scrabble to keep us occupied.

"It's really not too bad. I just feel sorry for people our age who don't have anyone to look after them.

"We have been through a war, so this is nothing new. It doesn't bother us."

Additional police patrols were implemented and emergency services and hospitals continued as normal, using powerful generators.

An EDF spokesperson said: "Our priority is restoring power to all our customers as quickly as is safely possible, and we continue to work on a full restoration of power supplies.

"We do appreciate people's patience and apologise to everyone affected."

Call EDF's emergency helpline on 0800 0280247 for further details.

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