Smoke billowing from an underground electricity junction box, which could have potentially exploded, has closed Queensway in Bletchley and plunged shops into darkness.
Firefighters from Bletchley and Great Holm have been protecting the area at the junction of Queensway and Oxford Street since 4pm after reports of smoke from a drain outside Barclays Bank.
The bank and The Extra Care charity shop had to be evacuated when they and six other shops lost power earlier this afternoon.
Western Power Distribution arrived at around 5pm to isolate the substations and investigate the cause of the smoke.
Watch Manager Andy Vernon from Bletchley said: “We were called to an electrical substation at a junction box in the ground outside Barclays.
“There was a lot of smoke issuing from it so we set up a cordon to protect the public and closed the road off.
“We have been waiting for the electricity board to arrive to isolate the substation either side of the box and now it’s their call to deem it safe.
“We are now on standby in case a fire does breakout.
“At the start there was a real risk of fire, potential spread and maybe an explosion but that seems to have diminished now as the time goes on.”
Palmers Family Butcher was one of the Queensway shops to lose power. Manager Keith Burgess said: “We might have to be here all night.
“I normally close at 5.30pm but we can’t close up until the power is back on.
“It is a nightmare because everything is run by power; all our fridges and tills are electric.
“We can’t cut the meat because we can’t seal the van saws because it’s so dark - it’s too dangerous.
“Normally this time is the busiest time because everyone is coming home from work; we always struggle to close on time.
“So it has affected us quite a bit unfortunately.”