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Pensioner's phone box ‘exploded and burst into flames’

By WBCraig  |  Posted: February 19, 2014

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Walter Fulcher with the burnt out phone socket at his home in Mabe

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A POWER surge caused a pensioner’s telephone junction box to explode in flames – but the power company and a building contractor at a nearby housing development have denied responsibility.

Walter Fulcher’s phone box “exploded and burst into flames” during a power surge which left homes in Mabe without electricity for 18 hours.

Walter said he was left “annoyed and frustrated” as the electricity company and the groundwork contractor tried to blame each other for the fault.

When Mr Fulcher complained to Western Power Distribution (WPD), he was put on to MJL Contractors.

The utility giant claimed an employee from MJL had damaged one of its cables during works at the St Aubyn Park off Trevliever Road, a Taylor Wimpey housing development.

When Mr Fulcher received a letter from MJL denying the allegation, he said: “They are just passing the buck, and blaming one another.

“I’ve been chasing my own tail and doing everything possible to get it rectified. I still don’t understand how the power came through the phone line. I am annoyed, it’s frustrating.”

The power cut on February 3 led to a surge which also melted another resident’s junction box.

Margaret Nancolas said: “The power went off, then I heard a massive bang. Then I smelt burning plastic.”

She is still without a phone line, despite waiting for two weeks for a BT engineer to fix the fault.

“The fireman said he had never heard of anything like this before. BT said they were coming four times but have never shown up.

“I’ve had to use my mobiles which is pay-as-you-go. I think they should reimburse me for that.”

A spokesman for WPD said it would be “claiming for damages” to the cable that it alleged was caused by MJL and urged any domestic customers who had suffered damage caused by the fault to contact its claims department on 0800 365 9000.

Up to ten houses in the area were also left without phone lines after a BT roadside cabinet was damaged during the power surge.

“We had specialist engineers on site to repair the damage and this work was completed at the end of last week,” said a BT spokesman.

“Mr Fulcher’s line tested as working but engineers were unable to gain access on the day to check the internal wiring.

“Mr Fulcher and any other customer that still has a fault should contact their service provider so we can arrange an urgent appointment.”

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