Workers in battle to restore power to 1,000 village homes

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Dozens of staff are battling to restore energy supplies at three villages after a gas main was fractured by workers at a major roads project.

National Grid staff from as far as London have been called to help fix issues affecting close to 1,000 homes in Great Eccleston, Little Eccleston and Elswick after a gas main was damaged as part of a £1.3m road widening project at Windy Harbour, in Singleton.

The pipe, which supplies gas to all three villages, was damaged by a digger excavating the ground, leaving homeowners without power and left using electric heaters and hot plates ahead of a weekend when temperatures are expected to plunge with wintry showers forecast.

Half a dozen National Grid vehicles were parked at Elswick Village Hall yesterday as workers turned the site into an operations base.

Incident controller Mark Woolham said around 50 staff are working on isolating supplies before the gas can be turned on.

He added: “We will be working around the clock to ensure power returns.

“I expect gas will be in the system soon. We will be here as long as it takes.

“We deal with around half a dozen of these incidents a year. It is a large incident but we can deal with it.”

Mr Woolham confirmed staff had targeted eight areas across all the villages, with staff focusing on restoring gas for 150 to 160 homes per area.

He added homeowners had been “fantastic” and “very understanding” of the situation.

Janet Taylor, 50 of Rose-acre Drive, said: “The gas went off on Thursday. National Grid have been really on the ball.

“They are trying to sort the issue and get it back on soon.”

Ben Leah, 42, of Roseacre Road, added: “On Thursday my boiler did not work.

“I walked outside and someone from the National Grid was there – they seemed to know there was a problem then.

“Someone came around and offered us heaters – they seem to be doing their best.”

A spokesman for National Grid said: “It seems the workers damaged the main when they were excavating, with it becoming fractured.

“We have a lot of engineers out in the villages. We have to visit every house to make sure the gas can come back on safely.

“It is a huge switch-on, but it will probably take most of the weekend.

“We have set up an action room in Elswick Village Hall, with fan heaters and hot plates available to collect.”

A spokesman for the Highways Agency confirmed a gas pipe was struck during the work at Windy Harbour around lunchtime on Thursday and a full investigation would take place into the incident.

Anyone with any concerns is asked to contact National Grid on 0800 111 999.