These are actually from yesterday. I was at home with both kids today (after two days at home with a coughing Adrian) and trying to get some actual work done as well, so photography got lower priority.

As I was eating my breakfast porridge, suddenly the power went out. Other parts of the house still seemed to have power. That wasn’t the first time: sometimes we lose power in the kitchen when we turn on too many kitchen appliances at the same time. But this time when I checked the circuit breakers they all looked OK, and so did the ground fault circuit breaker.

I thought I’d go check with the neighbours. But when I stepped outside, I saw there was no point in talking to the neighbours. There was thick smoke coming out of the electricity cabinet at the corner of the street. Whoah!

I made my first-ever call to 112 which actually felt a bit cool. Less cool was that the fire department had no intention of getting here and doing anything about it. It’s electricity, so I should call the electricity firm, they said. And the electricity firm apparently didn’t really want to do anything about it either.

The smell of an electrical fire spread throughout the neighbourhood and dog-walkers and other passers-by kept stopping, looking worriedly at the cabinet and taking out their phones. After a while I just stayed out there so I could tell them that I had called the appropriate authorities and was keeping an eye on it. Which was actually rather scary: while most of the time there was only smoke, occasionally small flames shot up and muffled bangs could be heard. (I actually brought out a fire extinguisher just in case it got worse.)

Finally about 6 phone calls and 90 minutes later, a van arrived with two guys inside. They also wanted to call 112 and were mildly annoyed when I told them that I’d already tried that, and they were on their own. They cut the power to the cabinet and then poked it open, with a fire extinguisher at the ready. But when the cabinet door fell open, it was with a whisper and not a bang: everything flammable had effectively already burned. All we could see was a slightly larger poof of smoke, and a lot of carbonized equipment. It crumbled when they started tearing it out.

After that initial wait, they were quite efficient. Soon more guys and vehicles arrived, and then an excavator and a dumper truck. They dug out the old cabinet and installed a new one. Adrian and I cycled off to buy pizza.

Around 3 o’clock I went out to check what the status was. I found the last guy packing up his tools. Turns out they had forgotten to tell me the power had been restored a while already. (I didn’t notice because they’d told me to switch off the power entirely rather than rely on the partly-burnt supply.)

On the whole I guess it could have been worse, but I was surprised by the slow response by both the fire department and the power network maintenance company, and their apparently relaxed attitude about an ongoing fire.