A builder who caused a village-wide blackout after striking an underground mains power line while putting up a fence at his sister’s house has been hit with a £24,000 bill.
Mark Staples was nearly electrocuted when he hit the 11,000 volt cable, buried less than a foot below the ground.
Doctors said he was ‘incredibly lucky’ to survive and photographs show how his chisel melted from the shock.
The shock has left the builder suffering nightmares and receiving a diagnosis of PTSD.
However, nine months later UK Power Networks sent him a bill for £24,000. It said the high voltage underground cable sustained damage and the power to 1,368 customers was cut, which took engineers 10 hours to restore.
Mark Stapes, who was nearly electrocuted in the incident, with the melted chisel
Mr Staples struck an underground mains powerline when he was digging to erect a fence around his sister’s house
The digging where the power line was found in Hextable, near Swanley, Kent
Doctors said he was ‘incredibly lucky’ to survive and photographs show how his chisel melted from the shock
The 53-year-old has worked as a qualified builder for 14 years and was working on land he and his relatives have excavated and built on many times, without coming across underground cables.
He said: ‘We had dug a post hole just below a foot on the boundary where an old garden wall exists when I used my breaker to go through some footings to make it a little bit deeper for the concrete fence post.
‘I had gone barely four inches with the chisel when there was a loud bang, flames and smoke and the deafening sound of electricity