By Humphrey Carter

A fire at a Calvia sub-station yesterday morning blacked out large parts of west Majorca disruptiing businesses, the tourist industry and causing traffic problems in Palma, Calvia and Andratx - parts of which were still without power at 7.15pm despite claims by GESA that full services had been restored at 5pm.

The blaze broke out at the Valldurgent substation along the road to Puigpunyent at 10am cutting power in a total of seven municipalities. Fire fighters, the security and emergency services had to react fast once the alarm was raised as the blazing substation is surrounded by pine forest and there were initial concerns that the flames could spread to neighbouring woodland.

The power company also disconnected the sub-station from the main grid for safety reasons while fire fighters from Palma, Calvia and Soller, tackled the heart of the blaze. GESA-Endesa said yesterday that the fire had been caused by an “internal fault” where 50'000 litres of oil was stored. However, GESA was quick to rule out that the blaze was caused by a surge in demand and that the sub-station was in fact running at just 30 percent capacity at the time of the incident.

Nevertheless, a full investigation has been launched into why 100'000 people in the west of the island were left without power for the latter part of yesterday morning, although most areas of Palma were back on line by 11.20am, and at 3.15pm, 15'000 people, the majority in Calvia, were still without power.

It was not until 5pm that GESA reported that all power supplies were back to normal.
The black-out also knocked out parts of the telephone system in the affected areas and it was shortly after mid-day that the government activated the emergency plan.

As soon as the power failed in Palma, traffic police were deployed across the city centre where traffic lights had been knocked out. Palma City Council sources said yesterday afternoon that no traffic incidents had been reported thanks to the quick reaction by the local police force.

However, once the phone system had been fully restored, the Bulletin did receive a series of irate calls from residents in Calvia desperate for information as to what was going on and how long the black out was going to last.

Central government's Minister for Commerce, Tourism and Industry, Joan Clos, said yesterday that the response time to yesterday's power cut was “normal” and that, considering the seriousness of the accident, power supplies could not have been restored any faster. Apart from Palma, Calvia and Andratx, parts of Puigpunyent, Banyalbufar, Estellencs and Esporles were also hit.


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