ELECTRICITY has been restored to all homes in Great Lever following a power cut.

More than 1,000 homes were left without power after thieves broke into an electricity substation in the early hours of Saturday morning. 

£2 worth of copper was stolen from the substation by vandals, but the consequences of their actions were massive disruption and vast costs.

Just after 1.30am on Saturday morning, a number of people broke into a 11,000-volt substation, off Lever Edge Lane.

The culprits broke through 8ft gates before breaking through the locked substation doors. They got away with just £2 worth of copper. But the break-in caused a power cut which affected 1,343 customers and caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage to homes and electrical appliances.

Firefighters were also called to several homes to deal with light bulbs and fuses blowing.

One homeowner affected was Thomas Burns, of Westcourt Road. The 62-year-old’s fusebox was melted during the incident.

He said: “We didn’t know it had happened until we woke up because we always leave the landing light on and it was off in the morning. 

“The whole estate went down and they came round to take everyone’s fuses out. 

“When they came for ours they saw that it had melted the entire box. The pay meter melted as well. 

“It hasn’t been easy for people, especially young families and elderly people. My wife’s mum has a stairlift and she could only use it about six times until the batteries went.”

Rose Bremner, 64, of Roseneath Road added: “Our power was out for around 14 hours until about 7pm on Saturday.

“We were quite lucky really because we have a gas cooker but I imagine if people have electric cookers then it would be a nightmare. 

“We’ve still got no heating but apart from that we’re okay.”

Electricity North West engineers restored power to 1,088 customers by 3:33am on Saturday.

However, hundreds of homes still experienced problems throughout the Saturday

By Monday morning, just eight homes were still without power. 

Clive Wilkinson, operations director at Electricity North West, described the incident as ‘very serious’ and said the vandals were ‘dicing with death’.

“Firstly, I want to thank the residents of Great Lever for their understanding and co-operation in what has been a difficult couple of days,” he said.

“This was a very serious incident, the substation is extremely powerful and the person who broke in and stole the copper was dicing with death.

“A considerable amount of damage has been caused as well as hundreds of people affected, it’s one of the biggest faults of this kind that we have ever seen down to vandalism. 

“We have yellow ‘danger of death’ signs in and around the network for a reason, its vital people take note of these and stay away.

“Our teams are still working hard on site and making further repairs to reinforce the network.

“As well as hand-delivering 250 letters to residents over the weekend, we still have teams on site, keeping customers up to date and if customers require any further information, they can contact us by calling 105.”

Essa Primary Academy, in Lever Edge Lane, was also affected and was closed today. 

Year Two and Year Six pupils, who are completing written work for their SATs were taken to secondary school Essa Academy for the day.

Andrew Cooper, chief executive of the Essa Foundation Academies Trust said he felt the school had been left in the dark by authorities and claimed to have been told the school may not be able to open for the rest of the week. 

He said: “We’ve had to close because we have no power and no water.  Electricity North West have told us we are likely to have to remain closed for a number of days and possibly all week.

Apparently they don’t have enough contractors — they are trying to bring some in from elsewhere in the country.

“I find it hard to believe that in a large conurbation like Greater Manchester in 2019, a large electricity company is struggling to manage the situation. 

“What are elected officials doing to try to resolve the situation? We’ve certainly had no contact from anybody. It’s as if we’re on a tiny Caribbean island in the aftermath of a hurricane.”

However a  number of people praised the work of Electricity North West and the community spirit shown in the aftermath of the incident. 

Along with making repairs to the network, Electricity North West arranged food vans for residents and provided more than 1,500 free hot meals, drinks and water. 

Farnworth Leisure Centre also offered people the chance to get a free shower due to the power cut breaking people’s boilers. 

Gareth Bidder, 29, who lives in Lever Edge Lane, said: “All the workers couldn’t do enough for us.  Everyone just got together and helped. The local shopkeeper, Vaz was giving out milk and ice cream to the kids. 

“In a weird way, it was a good day. We got a gas barbecue out and cooked on that.”

Power was restored to all homes at 4.50pm.