More than 4,000 homes in St Helens were left without power last night (Wednesday 2nd February) after dangerous criminals broke into an electricity substation and set fire to the high-voltage equipment inside.
The major substation at the Ex- United Glass Ravenhead site, which contains 33,000 volts of electricity, was attacked at approximately 4.30pm. After breaking in to the substation, the intruders started a fire severely damaging equipment and electricity supplies were lost to 4,200 nearby homes and businesses.
Prompt action from ScottishPower engineers and extra Emergency Response Engineers restored power to the area once the damaged equipment had been isolated. 3,000 homes were reconnected by 5.45pm, with the remaining 1,200 reconnected just after 6.30pm.
Merseyside Police and Fire Service were in attendance where severe damage has been caused internally to the substation. The vandals had fled the scene before the emergency services arrived. It is not yet clear whether this incident was a botched attempt to steal copper wiring, or whether it was an act of malicious vandalism.
Guy Jefferson, Network Operations Director at ScottishPower, said: “The criminals who broke into this substation have caused significant problems and inconvenience for people all across St Helens last night. Their actions are hugely irresponsible and completely unacceptable.
“They also put their own lives on the line, and it quite simply beggars belief that anyone would want to take risks with thousands of volts of live electricity. The fact that we did not find a dead body at the scene last night is purely down to luck.
“Our engineers were also faced with an extremely dangerous situation, and they worked incredibly hard to bring the power supplies back on as quickly as they did.
“We are working closely with Merseyside Police, but we would also like to ask anyone who may have information on those responsible to get in touch and pass on details.”
ScottishPower operates a confidential security hotline on 0800 027 1950. Calls can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The company is willing to pay a reward to anyone who provides credible information that helps to bring charges against those involved.