THOUSANDS of families woke up to freezing cold homes last Friday after a fire knocked out power supplies in the Star area.

Around 37,000 Southern Electric customers in the Camberley-Frimley-Farnborough area were affected by the blackout, which started at 2.45am.

The cause was a blaze near the M3 at Farnborough which wrecked a wooden pole carrying a 33,000 volt supply line.

Southern Electric workmen used generators and other emergency measures to restore supplies to 25,000 homes by 8.30am last Friday.

The remaining 12,000 customers had to wait another four hours before power was returned to their properties.

Julian Reeves, Southern Electric press officer, apologised on Friday for the inconvenience caused to customers.

"Unfortunately the fire affected a main supply line which is why it caused so much disruption," he said.

Mr Reeves said what sparked the fire is a mystery, but he ruled out vandalism.

"It was probably due to equipment failure," he added, "but we won't be investigating until later."

The company's immediate concern, he said, was to carry out permanent repairs to the supply line.