An 'explosion' at the Lanes shopping centre in Carlisle prompted a mass evacuation today.

Alarms were triggered at the shopping centre following an electrical explosion at about 12.45 this afternoon, forcing staff and shoppers to flood out onto Scotch Street.

Eyewitnesses nearby described hearing a "loud bang", and seeing smoke coming from the substation cabinet, located near the entrance to Debenhams on West Tower Street.

A spokesman for the Lanes said: "There was a full evacuation of the shopping centre in line with our procedures of both customers and shop staff conducted by the Lanes team, with everyone safely accounted for.

"The incident was identified as being in an electrical substation at the north end of the shopping centre between East Tower Lane and Scotch Street.

"The fire brigade and Electricity Northwest attended dealt with the incident and we received the all clear to reopen the centre at approximately 14:45."

Scott Cameron, incident commander for the fire service, said at the scene: “We were mobilised after reports of the electricity substation on fire.
“When we arrived the substation was issuing smoke.
“On advice from Electricity North West, we earthed the substation and committed two breathing apparatus for intervention to make sure there was no fire situation.
“Now we’re going to use Positive Pressure Ventilation to blow out the corridor to make sure there’s no smoke left."

The electrical fault at the Lanes caused disruption beyond the city centre, with 55 homes losing power as a result.

Some homes are still without power at present.

A spokesman for Electricity North West said: ““Our engineers attended site immediately and worked alongside the local fire service who attended following reports of smoke.

“We were able to restore power to five customers within the hour at 1:40pm and engineers are working hard to restore power to the remaining customers.”