Metal theft hits power to 280 Greenock homes and causes fires
Thieves have cut power to 280 homes in Greenock and caused four house fires after stealing copper wire worth about £40 from an electricity substation.
Loss of supply was reported in the Inverclyde town at 03:00 on Tuesday.
Scottish Power said the wire theft from the Burns Square substation had led to a dangerous power surge in some homes. Four fires have been reported, with one family having to flee their home.
Engineers will have to check all homes affected before supplies are restored.
Two of the fires were reported at homes in Burns Road, one on Devon Road and one on Cambridge Road.Smoke inhalation
Three of these fires are believed to be relatively minor and burned out before firefighters arrived. No-one was injured.
One of Burns Road fires, however, resulted in a family of four, including two young children, fleeing from the house after it filled with some.
A 28-year-old man was treated at the scene for the effects of smoke inhalation. He was also checked over by paramedics who decided he did not require hospital treatment.
Two crews from nearby Gourock attended the incident at about 04:20.
The fire, in a cupboard, was quickly put out and crews remained on the scene until about 06:00 to carry out stripping away operations.
Insp Jennifer Shanks, of Police Scotland, said: "This young family have been extremely lucky that they managed to escape so quickly from their house with two very young children, however, with five weeks to go before Christmas, their house has been extensively damaged after a surge at their electricity box.
"This terrifying fire was caused by someone stealing around £40 worth of copper piping from the nearby Burns Square substation."
Insp Shanks said many families in the area had been left without electricity on one of the coldest mornings of the year.
She added: "Some of these householders will undoubtedly have very young, or old people who are vulnerable to the cold."
Insp Shanks said metal theft was "extremely dangerous" and this case had "almost cost a family their lives and left many people without power".
She asked anyone with information about the theft to contact officers.