A DRAMATIC underground fire which blacked out five streets in Alnwick was blamed on thieves who are risking their lives to steal cables.
Homes were evacuated and roads closed when the blaze erupted from a manhole at the top of Swansfield Park Road on Wednesday, December 21.
Two fire crews from Alnwick were called to the inferno in a manhole next to an electricity supply just after 7pm and battled it for an hour.
Those living in two houses close to the fire were evacuated as a precaution.
Power to homes on Greensfield Avenue, The Dunterns, Meadow Riggs, Blakelaw Road and Swansfield Park Road, was cut off during the blaze and when staff from Northern Power Grid, formerly NEDL, were working on the supply they found that the fire had been caused by the theft of cables from the manhole.
Sometime over the last two years, thieves had broken into it and damaged cabling inside.
As a result, water had seeped into the cabling and caused the fire. Inquiries into the damage are ongoing.
Northumbria Police’s Northumberland Area Command Chief Supt Mark Dennett said: “As a result of mindless thieves, a community has had their power cut, causing a great inconvenience to families, elderly people and everyone living in the area.
“Whoever has done this risked their lives to get inside at the electrical cables and they are lucky they weren’t killed.
“The offence could have happened at any time over the last two years but inquiries will be carried out to try to find those responsible.
“I’d appeal for the public to pick up the phone and contact police if they see anyone tampering with or acting suspiciously around electricity supply cabinets, manhole covers, electricity substations or anywhere similar.
“Criminals don’t care how much trouble they cause to people’s lives or communities.”
Power was restored by Thursday morning.