A NURSING home was forced to evacuate 19 residents after reckless thieves broke into a neighbouring substation and removed critical electrical components.
Around 150 homes were also left without power following the copper cable theft from a substation in Church Road, Liversedge.
Huddersfield CID have arrested two men and say inquiries are ongoing into the incident, which adds to the growing number of cable thefts in recent weeks.
Staff at Roberttown Nursing Home, Liversedge raised the alarm at around 7.30am on Saturday after a power surge caused several electrical appliances to fuse and smoulder.
Fire crews from Cleckheaton attended the scene and carried out checks to establish no fused items could spark a fire before giving the all clear.
Deputy nursing home manager Steph Charlesworth, told the Examiner: “We were just handing over to the day shift and the computer went off and started smoking, then the lights went off.
“Fortunately because of the time of day the night shift staff stayed late to give us extra help to evacuate everyone outside.
“Everyone worked together really well, we have a range of abilities, some can walk, some are in wheelchairs and others are high dependency, so it caused quite a bit of disruption.
“Once the all-clear was given we managed to get everyone settled, but the power was out for at least eight hours making our daily tasks difficult and some just impossible.”
Items affected by the surge included a number of specialist air beds which use air pumps, which will now have to be repaired or destroyed.
Steph added: “The beds are probably the most valuable. We don’t own some of them and because of the way they operate with a pump they may have to be destroyed. We had two replacements arrive yesterday.
“Our fridges were off and we had to throw lots of food away. We couldn’t cook a hot meal at lunchtime so we ordered fish and chips for everyone.
“We couldn’t do any washing or even a drugs round as the emergency lighting made it difficult to see tablets.
“The power came back on at around 4pm but we had engineers here all day testing equipment.
“It caused quite a bit of disruption and we have been told it was thieves stealing copper cables.
“They must be pretty desperate to put themselves at risk and in doing so affecting others.”
A spokesman for CE Electric UK, said: “Residents were affected by a metal theft incident after reckless thieves broke into a local substation and removed critical electrical components.
“Due to the theft of these electrical components, damage has been caused to customers’ household appliances after experiencing over-voltage at their premises.
“It is clear that reckless thieves will go to extreme lengths to steal metal, including risking not only their own lives, but those of local residents.
“As this event was the result of criminal activity, we are urging all customers affected to contact their insurance company, which should deal appropriately with any claims.
“All power supplies were restored shortly before 8pm after electricians had carried out safety checks at affected properties.”
The electricity company thanked the residential home for their patience while emergency repairs were carried out.
Police confirmed that two men aged 34 and 46 have been arrested on suspicion of metal theft and were being questioned by police as The Examiner went to press.
If you have been affected by this incident or have any concerns please call CE Electric UK’s 24-hour helpline on 0800 375 675.