Electricity pole fell on houses in storm

Published Friday, 27 December 2013
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Two pensioners are lucky to be alive after an electricity pole broke and crashed on their house in Co Down during severe overnight storms.

The married couple were in their Mayobridge home with their son when the pole fell at about 10pm on Thursday in winds of up to 75mph, causing a fire which gutted the property.

There was smoke and water damage in an adjoining property which housed two other pensioners. All the victims were brought to Daisy Hill Hospital but have since been discharged.

Sean O'Hare, a neighbour, saw what happened.

"The flashing and sparking came from all over and it was just like a fireworks display for a time," he told UTV.

"Then I saw the electric wires down on top of the two houses out front here. I was in shock for a while then I got the emergency services on my mobile and called the fire brigade."

Local MLA Karen McKevitt said: "There were two families at home at the time but thank goodness they got out safely and after treatment they are now back with their families."

Heavy rain and winds swept across the southern and eastern counties of Northern Ireland on Thursday night, causing damage to powerlines and trees.

Northern Ireland Electricity said its engineers worked throughout Friday to restore power to over 33,000 properties but warned that, due to the extent of the damage, around 1,300 isolated customers may remain without overnight while repairs are carried out.

Communications Manager Julia Carson said: "NIE engineers and emergency crews continue to work into the night but the company warns that due to the extent of the damage some isolated customers may remain off electricity supplies overnight."

There were a number of road closures across the region throughout Friday due to fallen trees, power lines and BT lines, but these have now been cleared.

The Roads Service said: "There are also reports of small branches and debris on many roads, and road users are advised to exercise extreme caution when travelling on all roads today."

Buildings have also been badly damaged by the storm, with one house in the Victoria Road area of Holywood, Co Down, wrecked by a fallen tree. A small fire was dealt with overnight by the Fire Service after a sign was blown over on the roof of a shop at the Buttercrane Centre in Newry.

Meanwhile police warned members of the public to take care in Newry due to falling debris from derelict buildings.

Some flights at Belfast City Airport and Dublin Airport were affected on Thursday evening.

Belfast International Airport took a Ryanair diversion from Dublin on Friday. It said passengers on the Edinburgh flight would complete their journey by coach.

The M1 motorway in Belfast has been reopened following the removal of fallen trees while the Foyle Bridge has been opened to all vehicles with a 30mph speed limit in place.

Friday's crossings to Rathlin Island off the Co Antrim coast have been cancelled.

A statement from P&O Ferries said its sailings resumed at 10.30am but warned passengers to expect delays due to a backlog.

Across the island, the gales have brought down power lines cutting electricity to almost 75,000 people in Northern Ireland and the Republic at the peak of the problems.

ESB Networks said electricity was restored to more than 35,000 homes overnight.

A statement added: "We hope to restore supply to all customers today, however some damage may require more extensive construction work to be carried out and we are assessing the situation and will give further updates later. We will also be redeploying crews from areas less affected to help those locations experiencing more extensive damage."

The Met Office yellow warning for wind and rain in Northern Ireland remained in place until 11.55pm on Friday.

Temperatures were forecast to fall below freezing overnight, with a risk of some icy stretches on roads.

"Road users are again advised to exercise extreme caution when travelling," the Roads Service said.

© UTV News
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