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Raymond Warren tells of terror as he dodges falling power cables in Minster Road, Minster

What began as a routine visit to help a friend turned into a living nightmare for retired pub landlord Raymond Warren.

As the 68-year-old delivered an electric heater, he suddenly found himself trying to dodge live 400-volt overhead power cables which had crashed to the ground around him.

As they sparked and snaked on the pavement, Mr Warren desperately tried to run for his life.

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Raymond Warren dodged live 400-volt power cables snaking across the road
Raymond Warren dodged live 400-volt power cables snaking across the road

But in his terror he tripped and watched helplessly as the cables came closer.

He admitted: “I knew that if the cables touched me I would be dead. I have never been so terrified in my life.

“But there was nothing I could do. My whole body was frozen with fear.”

His night of terror began around 6pm on Thursday after he had dropped off the heater and collected Christmas gifts for his grandsons at a friend’s house in Minster Road, Minster.

The father-of-three and grandad-of-six, said: “I was going to pick up Christmas presents for my grandsons but I heard the family’s boiler had broken and they were without any heating.

VIDEO: Raymond Warren injured after power cable fell in Sheppey

“It was so cold that night I offered to drop off a spare electric heater as a favour.

“I’d spent about 90 minutes with them but had left the hazard warning lights running on my wife Gillian’s car outside.

“When I went to go home the battery was flat.

“I was just about to ask for a jump start and had my hand on the front garden gate when there was an almighty bang and the whole street lit up like daylight. I thought all hell had broken loose.

“I could see the mains cable arcing like fireworks. I could smell it and feel the heat. In fact, as I turned away, the heat burned the back of my jacket.

The road was closed as engineers made the area safe
The road was closed as engineers made the area safe

“In my panic I couldn’t open the gate. I couldn’t jump into the road either because there were still cars driving past.

“So I tried to run. But as I did, the cable snapped and came down. I tripped and fell. I had one leg in the road and one on the pavement. I was like a dog on all fours, unable to move.

“I could see the cable coming closer and snaking towards me. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

“Then there was another bang and a second cable came down. Everything just exploded. I was frozen with fear and couldn’t move. I was in a right old mess.”

Luckily a passing motorcyclist stopped and halted traffic so Mr Warren could crawl to safety.

He said: “I have no idea who he was but I’d like to thank him.”

"Everything just exploded. I was frozen with fear and couldn’t move. I was in a right old mess" - Raymond Warren

Meanwhile, neighbour David Jones heard the commotion and rushed outside to find a group of people already gathered.

He took Mr Warren inside to await paramedics.

By this time police and the fire service were on the scene near the junction with Banner Way.

Firefighters cordoned off the area as engineers from

UK Power Networks were called to make the road safe. Up to 1,600 homes were plunged into darkness until engineers restored the electricity.

Police closed the road from Halfway traffic lights to the Oasis Academy’s Minster campus.

Mr Warren, of Taillour Close, Kemsley, Sittingbourne, retired to Swale two years ago after running The Bell Inn in Tonbridge.

He said: “Paramedics spent 45 minutes looking at my hands and legs but I didn’t want to go to hospital. I just wanted to go home.”

Incredibly, he insisted on driving himself.

He admitted: “With hindsight, I shouldn’t have done that. I was still in deep shock.”

He added: “I keep thinking what would have happened if I had been with one of my grandchildren.

Homes were plunged into darkness when a power cable broke in Minster Road, Minster, Sheppey
Homes were plunged into darkness when a power cable broke in Minster Road, Minster, Sheppey

“We wouldn’t have stood a chance of getting out of the way. The same would have applied if there had been a mother with a pram or buggy.”

The following day Mr Warren was prescribed painkillers and sleeping tablets by his GP and treated for arc-eye after being left temporarily blinded by the bright sparks.

Residents are demanding an inquiry into why the power cables apparently plunged to the ground without any warning.

Former newspaper editor David Jones said: “UK Power Networks, or whoever is responsible for these cables, has some serious questions to answer. It was a cold, unpleasant night and it was fortunate there were very few people about.

“Imagine what would have happened if this had been in school term time? Hundreds of children and their parents walk along this part of Minster Road twice a day on their way to Halfway Houses primary school or to the Oasis Academy. This could have been a tragedy.”

The broken cable led to a power cut
The broken cable led to a power cut

He added: “I heard an enormous bang and saw green flashing lights. At first I thought it was kids throwing fireworks. Then I saw a group of people had gathered on the pavement.

“I couldn’t believe what I saw. At least 100 metres of power cabling had crashed down on to the pavement. All the cables were live and obviously highly dangerous. A fireman told me it was the first time in his career he had seen power cables break and fall to the ground without any obvious cause.”

Raymond Warren’s son Terry, 40, of Rushenden, said: “I’d like to know why these cables just fell down and when they were last checked. Luckily my dad keeps himself reasonably fit and was able to get out of the way. He must either be the luckiest man alive - or the unluckiest!”

Twenty-six homes on the northern side of the road between Banner Way and Minster Road Baptist Church remained without power for more than eight hours. Supplies were finally restored by 2am on Friday.

It is not yet known what caused the incident but one witness suggested the cable had shrunk and snapped in the extreme cold.

Retired pub landlord Raymond Warren
Retired pub landlord Raymond Warren

Mr Warren believes a power surge weakened connections.

A spokesman for Kent Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were initially told a car had crashed into an electricity pylon and had brought down a power cable. It was originally thought a man had been electrocuted but all that proved unfounded.”

He added: “We cordoned off the area and waited until UK Power Networks arrived. The cable had been arcing for some distance.”

UK Power Networks’ public statement insisted: “UK Power Networks engineers were called after a car was in collision with one of our electricity poles.

“Power supplies to approximately 30 customers were interrupted at 6.35pm. We temporarily turned off power in the area at 6.46pm to enable our engineers to safely repair damaged equipment. Power was restored in stages with all back on supply at 1.42am.”

Mr Warren insists no car hit a pole.

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