Explosion cut off power to 1,800 properties in Cheltenham
"IT WAS like a bomb had gone off."
That was the description of one eyewitness when an electricity station caught fire yesterday afternoon, cutting off 1,800 Cheltenham homes and businesses.
Tracy Pym was left shocked when her office next to the sub-station in Clarence Street, Cheltenham, began filling with black smoke.
The fire, beneath Strozzi Palace, cut off electricity to the homes and businesses just after 1pm.
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Ms Pym, a 51-year-old hotel manager, said: "All of a sudden there was a massive bang and it was like a bomb went off. Everything went black for a few seconds before the lights came back on.
"Even an hour later, my feet were still tingling from the vibrations of the thud.
"Thick black smoke was coming under the office door.
"I got out of there quickly, but you don't realise how powerful the smoke is."
Neighbouring pub landlord Del Barnes, who owns St George's Vault, also heard the explosion. He said: "What we experienced was this massive great thud and then all the electricity went off for a couple of seconds – it sounded like an explosion."
A spokesman for Western Power Distribution confirmed around 1,300 customers were back with electricity supply by 3pm and generators were on their way for the remaining homes and business.
Keith Coles, spokesman for the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said 10 firefighters were sent to the blaze.
The power cut was the second of the day for some businesses and residents.
Around 1,600 customers were also plunged into darkness just before 6am yesterday, including homes in Rowanfield, Lansdown and St George's Road.
Traffic lights along Bayshill Road and St George's Road were also affected.
That problem was caused by a fault in an underground cable. It is unclear whether the blackouts are related.
Yesterday's incidents takes Cheltenham's power cut toll to five in the past month.