A MAJOR powercut hit Winchester city centre yesterday lunchtime as well as a chunk of Hampshire.

It was part of a fault at the main sub-station at Nursling, near Southampton, that affected around 34,000 customers. The sub-station serves 177,000 customers.

In Winchester hundreds of buildings were affected including the Chronicle office.

SSEN this afternoon said the outage was at 11.50am and lasted seven minutes.

Power was quickly restored by 11.57am, said SSEN, and engineers have been working today to estblish the cause.

The outage led to a callout for Winchester firefighters to a fire alarm at the London Camera Exchange in The Square in Winchester. Reports of smoke were made to the fire service but on inspection, the outage had caused a smoke cloak to activate.

Traffic lights at the junction of southgate Street and the High Street were temporarily knocked out.

It is thought the power cut was so widespread that it affected the city fire station on Easton Lane, in Winnall.

A spokesman for SSE said "We would like to apologise to our customers for any inconvenience yesterday's short power cut and our follow-up work has caused."

A spokesperson for the fire service did not confirm this but he explained that in the event of a power cut, the fire stations run from a battery back-up system which keeps the call-out system in operation.