Invercargill pump station explosions ’looked like fireworks’

Waikiwi pump station where the explosion happened. - Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Neighbours of a water pumping station in Invercargill where there were explosions yesterday say the drama shook their nerves.

The explosion happened just after 12pm yesterday at the pump station in Myers Street, Waikiwi.

An electrical contractor was treated in hospital for burns to his hands after a switchboard exploded, but he has been discharged.

A woman whose house backs on to the reserve says a bit after midday there were two loud bangs.

"I jumped, mum jumped and the dog jumped."

She says after hearing the explosion she "knew it was bad".

Another neighbour, Maree Bell, says the explosions there yesterday looked like fireworks.

She says she heard loud noises in the direction of the pump station and then suddenly the power poles next to her house exploded too.

"I thought my neighbour was using heavy-duty tools in his shed and I was like 'what is he doing?'"

Maree saw "big puff of black smoke and sparks everywhere" then ran inside and took cover, but heard nothing more.

Residents and businesses in Invercargill and Bluff are being asked to conserve water until the pump station is fixed.

RNZ Otago reporter Ian Telfer told Morning Report it was "quite a shock for neighbours whose houses are less than 25m away".

Invercargill City Council Water Manager Alister Murray yesterday said the pump was still out of action, resulting in lower water pressure than normal.

"It will mean our storage levels are depleted down to dangerously low levels at our city pump station. It just happens that today is one of the hottest days we have, so we've noticed the demand for water has been increasing.

"That coupled with the fact that we have only got approximately half our pumping capacity has combined to really affect our ability to distribute water."

He asked residents and businesses in Invercargill and Bluff to use as little water as possible, otherwise water levels could get very low.

The council has said it hopes to have the issue fixed by this afternoon.

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