No evidence has been found that the Yuen Long cable bridge fire which cut power to tens of thousands of people was caused by the hot weather or vandalism, according to the electricity company.

The fire, which broke out in the evening of June 21 on a power cable bridge in Long Ping, blacked out some 160,000 households in Yuen Long, Tin Shui Wai, and Tuen Mun.

Long Ping cable bridge
A cable bridge located at Long Ping was damaged by fire on June 21, 2022. Photo: Supplied.

The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) received a detailed report from CLP Power on Wednesday, the Development Bureau said.

The three high-power cables were in “normal operation condition” on the day of the fire, CLP Power said.

“There is no evidence at this stage suggesting the incident was related to the electricity protection system, weather conditions or vandalism,” according to a government statement citing the report.

The cables at the time were not overloaded and were carrying less electricity than the maximum they were designed for, CLP Power said in a separate statement on Wednesday.

The firm said the fire in a high-voltage cable or electrical and mechanical facilities was the cause of the blackout, according to initial investigations. The EMSD urged it to complete its in-depth investigation as soon as possible.

HKFP has reached out to the Development Bureau for comment.

Subsequent power shortage

Following the power outage on June 21, around 13,000 households in Yuen Long experienced another blackout two days later.

Tin Shui Wai blackout
Tin Shui Wai was in a blackout in the evening of June 21, 2022. Photo: Supplied.

CLP Power previously said it believed the incident was caused by unstable power supply while work was being done on the cable bridge.

Missing alert

The incident sparked criticism of the government for the failure to use the city’s HK$150 million emergency alert system.

According to the Communications Authority’s website, the system is designed to be used “during emergency situations like extreme weather, serious public safety and health incidents and more, to facilitate the public to adopt contingency measures quickly.”

Secretary for Security Chris Tang said last month that using the emergency system “might not be the most suitable,” and the government had used various other means to notify local people.

The system was used for the first time in March to alert the public about the conversion of Queen Elizabeth Hospital into a Covid-19 facility. Some netizens at the time questioned whether its use was appropriate, but then-chief executive Carrie Lam defended the decision.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.