A POWER supplier has apologised to residents after a housing estate was plunged into darkness on one of the coldest nights of the year.
More than 200 homes on the new Whinney Hill estate in Altham were blacked out for about 10 hours on Monday night, leaving families without hot food in the cold and dark.
The same thing happened last winter and again last month - but United Utilities has now pledged to get to grips with the problem.
One of those affected by the blackout was mother-of-three Maria Wyatt, of Epping Avenue.
She said: "This is an appalling situation that has been going on too long.
"God knows what it will be like when it gets even colder and people need more power for their heating and Christmas lights."
Mrs Wyatt, whose children are 18, 12 and 10, added: "I finished work as usual at 6pm and brought the kids home to find the power was off, which means no central heating.
"We had to go to a neighbour's house for a hot drink and then eat out.
"When you have been working all day you just want to relax and get the kids sorted out, but we couldn't even get warm. It was the middle of the night before we got our electricity back.
"People are fed up with this and it is about time United Utilities sorted it out before it gets really cold."
A United Utilities spokesman said: "We experienced some problems last year with the underground electricity cable supplying the Whinney Hill Road estate. On three occasions, sections of the cable were replaced.
"On Monday evening the electricity supply to the estate was lost when a more serious fault occurred on the same cable.
"We restored supplies the same evening via a generator, which remains in place."
He added: "We would like to apologise to our customers for the inconvenience they suffered on Monday, to thank them for their patience and to assure them that we are taking steps to solve these problems.
"We had a team on site on Wednesday to re-lay the whole 200m length of cable, replacing it with a larger cable more capable of coping with the demand for power.
"This work will take around a week and should provide a much more robust electricity supply to the estate.
"In the long term we are looking at various ways of bringing in more power from the high voltage network to supply the growing needs of this part of Accrington."