Shock sub-station explosion was caused by vandals

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RECKLESS vandals are being blamed for causing the shock explosion at an electricity sub-station in Hucknall.

Now a reward has been offered to help catch those responsible.

More than 1,100 homes and businesses suffered a loss of power when the blast rocked the town centre on Wednesday January 12.

Last week, the police and the fire service confirmed they were treating the attack as arson. Now it has been revealed by power company Central Networks that an investigation has shown that the sub-station on the corner of Bolsover Street and Station Road was broken into and vital safety-equipment was damaged.

The company, which is responsible for electricity distribution in central England, is offering a £5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and eventual conviction of the vandals.

Phil Wilson, customer operations manager for Central Networks, said: “This was an entirely irresponsible act, risking not only the vandals’ own lives but also those of the engineers and firefighters who responded to the emergency calls.

“These people are reckless and simply don’t consider the potential consequences of their actions.

“We keep our sub-stations fenced off and locked up for good reason.”

Craig Dooley heads the arson taskforce for Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service. He said: “Those involved in this put themselves in serious danger of electrocution.

“People can think they are safe but electricity can jump or arc, and we have seen instances in the past where vandals have been in the process of stealing things from sub-stations and have ended up losing limbs because of the high voltage of electricity involved.

“This is very serious and the culprits need to be found.”

The explosion happened at about 8 pm, forcing a dozen families living nearby to be evacuated.

Electricity to hundreds of homes had to be cut off as a safety measure and although most were re-connected within 90 minutes, 78 households were without power for 24 hours.

Anyone with information about the vandal-attack on the sub-station should ring the police on 0300 3009999. Alternatively, call the free and confidential Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555111.