ANGRY residents in an East Yorkshire town are furious after a power surge blew up thousands of electrical appliances.

More than 5,000 homes and businesses in the Pocklington area were affected by an abnormal surge in electricity after a fault occurred in the control equipment of a major substation.

The surge caused damage to household equipment, including burglar alarms, telephones, microwaves and alarm clocks.

But Yorkshire Electricity refuses to accept liability for the fault and has told residents to claim from their household insurance to cover the loss.

Richard Whitaker, of Morgan Close, Pocklington, whose burglar alarm, cordless telephone and video were blown up by the surge, said this would leave him and many others out of pocket.

He said: "Local residents are fuming. We all have excess policies on our insurance and this will force our premiums up. I cannot understand how a resident or an insurance company can be responsible for their equipment failing. It is very unfair and underhand."

He said that he had spoken to a legal adviser from his insurance company who told him Yorkshire Electricity should take responsibility as the power surge was not an "act of God".

A Yorkshire Electricity spokesman said: "Investigations show the fault was due to component failure that could not be foreseen and was therefore beyond our control.

"We are therefore unable to accept any liability as a result of this incident. Household or business insurance policies may cover the cost of any loss or damage that may have occurred from this type of incident."

Malcolm Tarling, of the Association of British Insurers, said Yorkshire Electricity would only be liable if it was proved to have been negligent. He warned households and businesses to check their insurance policies carefully as not all policies cover power surges.

Irene Tinson, from the electrical shop Eric Lee, in Market Place, Pocklington, said they had lost a lot of money as their photo developing unit had been out of action since the power surge last Wednesday. She said the unit was now up and running again, but the shop had to cope with a backlog of photos. She said: "A lot of customers have come into the shop to replace broken equipment such as clock radios, televisions and dishwashers. They are all really upset and shocked about what happened."

Updated: 10:13 Wednesday, April 23, 2003