AN underground electricity cable ‘exploded’ in Accrington, leaving 100 homes and businesses without power for more than three hours yesterday.

The pavement on the corner of Westwood Street and York Street was damaged following the incident, at around noon.

Properties in Whalley Road, Blackburn Road, and Hyndburn Road were left without power while repairs were carried out, while others experienced a short interruption.

Rob Burns uploaded a picture to Facebook and said there had been an ‘explosion’.

He said: “Electrics blew a hole in the ground on the corner of Mary Mags’. Alarms are going off but houses are okay.”

A spokeswoman for Electricity North West said: “The fault, which occurred on a piece of equipment underneath the pavement, caused external damage.

“We would like to assure customers that incidents of this nature are rare and we regularly inspect and maintain our underground network to ensure customers across the North West receive a reliable supply of electricity.

“Our engineers quickly arrived on site and restored power to the majority of customers by 3.30pm.”

Witnesses said traffic lights in Hyndburn Road failed, while rumours also spread of McDonald’s giving away free food after its power failed.

Backup generators kicked in at Asda, with a spokeswoman saying the store remained open, although it did close some of its chillers to preserve their contents.

She said: “We were trading as normal but the whole town centre was affected.”

Tesco spokesman Mark Thomas said backup batteries were also used at the Extra store in Eagle Street.

He said: “We had a power outage in our Accrington Extra store today for half an hour. Our customers were asked to leave for ten minutes.

“We were soon back up and running serving customers again.”

The power supply was uninterrupted at nearby Accrington Victoria Hospital, which also has back-up generators.

Nearby St Mary Magdalen’s Church of England Primary School, in Devonshire Street, was also unaffected, a spokeswoman said.

Firefighters from Accrington were called to the Globe Centre, in St James Square, after the cut triggered automatic fire alarms there.

A fire service spokesman said: “Our power went off too, but only for a second at dinner time.”

Nobody at McDonald’s could be reached for comment at the time of going to print.