SCORES of homes in a rural Northumberland village were awoken to “gunshot” type sounds as an electrical power surge struck in the early hours of the morning.
Residents in Kielder Village got the unexpected awakening on Tuesday at around 5.30am as a malfunction in the electricity supply caused plugged-in equipment to burn, filling their homes with smoke.
The fault has left many families thousands of pounds out-of-pocket as most properties within the small community were left with completely destroyed appliances including washing machines, freezers, televisions, computers and mobile phones.
Julie Nichol, who lives with husband Alan and six-year-old daughter Lucy, described the moment the surge hit, saying: “It was scary when it happened because what it sounded like was gunfire
“Our mobile phone and laptop chargers melted and the room filled with smoke.
“Other items were hissing and popping and my husband had to go round switching everything off.”
The couple, of South End, were left with a broken television, laptop computer, mobile phone, and Sky box, which they have totaled up to be worth more than £1,000. It is believed that a 10-mile area was affected by the power fault in Kielder, with nearly 300 homes affected. Most were left without power for more than 14 hours on Tuesday.
Electricity supplier NEDL is still investigating the exact cause of the problem but has already notified residents the company is not liable to pay compensation.
The power surge has also had a knock-on effect on local businesses who struggled to operate throughout Tuesday without an electricity supply.
The Anglers Arms pub didn’t get power back until 10pm on Tuesday and was still without lighting yesterday afternoon. Owner Christine Atkinson said: “The kitchen had to be closed down and we’re still going around checking everything. The freezer, the boiler, our CCTV and the brand new salad bar, which cost us £1,000, aren’t working.”
The 51-year-old added: “Everyone has been ringing their insurers up but for a power surge we’ll be lucky to get anything.”
Steve Webb, owner of the Kielder Village Shop and Post Office on Castle Drive, said: “It wasn’t much fun in the sense that we had no power and in the shop everything is geared on electricity. We threw quite a lot of stock away and the excesses are too high on our insurance so it’s a waste of time me trying to claim.”
Last night NEDL’s parent company CE Electric said: “The circumstances surrounding the fault are currently under investigation.
“We would like to apologise to customers for the inconvenience caused and thank them for their patience.
“If affected customers have any concerns and would like to discuss this matter further then please call our 24-hour customer relations helpline on 0800 668877.”