HUNDREDS of people could be left without electricity for days after a power cut hit around 500 homes.

Properties in Croft and Hurworth, near Darlington, were plunged into darkness about 4am this morning (Monday, December 17), when an overhead power cable was damaged.

The power cut forced the closure of Croft CE Primary School, and left residents without electricity.

Engineers from Northern Powergrid were last night working to fix the fault, but a spokesman warned it would take time to identify the damage, which occurred on a 12-mile network of cabling.

The repairs also suffered extra delays yesterday when plans to use a helicopter to assess the power lines were cancelled due to poor weather and worries that it would scare horses in nearby fields.

The fault comes after residents in the area suffered further power cuts over the weekend.

Brenda Higgins, headteacher at Croft CE Primary School, said she was left with little alternative but to close the school.

She said: “We arrived at 7.45am, but had no power at all and couldn’t even get in because we have an electric door entry system.

“The power has been on and off and it was a very hard decision to close.

“It is so awkward for parents and I feel very sorry for them, but we had no guarantee of heating or any power to heat lunches.

“Closing the school was the last thing we wanted to do, and it is something we could have done without at this time of year, but everyone has been very understanding.”

A spokesman for Northern Powergrid said the problem was an intermittent fault, which meant engineers had to wait for it to occur before attempting to fix it.

He said: “The power has been on and off, but we are working as hard as we can to get it working properly again.

“We are still searching for the cause of the fault, and our engineers will be there for as long as it takes.

“It has been made more difficult because the fault is intermittent, but we will find it and restore the power as quickly as we can.”