Northern Ireland Electricity has issued a strong safety warning to communities to keep bonfires a safe distance from overhead lines and substations.
An NIE spokesperson said: “In recent years, bonfires have been erected under or close to high voltage electricity lines. This is a very dangerous practice as the smoke and heat from bonfires can cause electrical arcing and sparking, and in some cases lines may be brought down by the fire. Bonfire debris and flames anywhere near power lines and electricity substations are a serious risk to everyone’s safety and wellbeing.
“Bonfires also need to be kept clear of hidden hazards, such as trees which might have electricity lines running close to them. Electricity can jump gaps so you don’t need to come into direct contact with live equipment to risk electrocution. The electricity network is safe when left alone but can be potentially lethal if you get too close.
“We are working with the local communities and elected representatives to highlight the dangers and would urge everyone to put safety first this summer.
“We would also like to remind the public not to attach any posters, signs or flags to the electricity network. Interfering with electricity equipment can cause power cuts and signs and flags on poles make it more difficult for NIE emergency crews to restore electricity supplies. Any obstruction to our lines teams can have serious safety implications and can lead to customers being off supply for longer than necessary.”
If you are concerned about safety around the electricity network in your area, please contact NIE on 03457 643 643 or visit nie.co.uk for more advice.