Sub-station explosion was arson — police

DO NOT CROSS -- police cordoned off the sub-station, which was destroyed in the blast
DO NOT CROSS -- police cordoned off the sub-station, which was destroyed in the blast

A FIRE that destroyed an electricity sub-station and rocked homes in Hucknall town centre is being treated as arson.

As reported in the Dispatch, the blaze followed a major explosion on the site at the junction of Bolsover Street and Station Road at about 8 pm on Wednesday January 12.

After a detailed forensic examination by Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and the police, the cause of the fire is now being treated as “suspicious”.

Police are urging witnesses to come forward with information.

Det Con Louise Foster confirmed: “We now believe this fire was started deliberately.

“I would appeal to anyone who was in or around the area between 7 pm and 8 pm on that day to cast their minds back and see if they can remember anyone acting suspiciously or seeing any vehicles associated with them.

“If you think you have information, no matter how trivial, please call the police immediately.”

Any witnesses or anyone with information are asked to call the police on 0300 300 9999 and ask for Ashfield South CID. Alternatively, you can call the free and confidential Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555111.

The explosion caused large-scale disruption. Several roads had to be closed and traffic was diverted.

A heavy volume of smoke meant that residents of 12 houses near the scene were evacuated and they did not return until the blaze was out at about 11 pm. Many other residents were warned to keep doors and windows closed.

More than 1,000 homes and businesses suffered a loss of power and it was not until well into the following day that all were re-connected.

The nearby Tesco petrol station was closed and Hucknall-bound trams terminated at the Moor Bridge stop.

Kev and Jo Kemmett, who live with their children, Ben (eight) and Karl (five), on Bolsover Street, said the explosion was like a bomb and they were then plunged into pitch-darkness.

Kev (49) claimed that flames from the fire rose to a height of 25 feet — the same as the tops of surrounding trees.

He said the family spent the night sleeping in their kitchen after police asked them to keep to the back of the house. “The children were really scared,” he added.