A Helensville couple thought their sixth day without power had just ended, but then their home's power box caught fire as the power came back on.

Martin and Sally Lyttelton have been hunkered down without power in their northwest Auckland home since the electricity went out in a destructive storm last Tuesday.

The couple, their two daughters and three grandchildren have since gone without hot water, and had to fork out $900 on a generator to gain some sense of normalcy while they wait for Vector to restore power to the region.

"It has not been easy," Sally told the Herald.


"I was literally headed in to town today to have a shower at my mother's house, when I got a phone call from my husband saying the power had come back on about 10.30am.

"Our power came on this morning and within 30 seconds our mains switchboard caught on fire." Photo / Supplied

"At the time, my daughter was standing at the kitchen window washing dishes, and she could see smoke coming past the window.

"My husband then ran outside and the whole power box was on fire."

Sally said fire crews arrived at the house and extinguished the fire, and Vector was called to inspect the power box.

"We have a big old villa and we were really worried that the villa was going to catch fire, so fire crews hung around for half an hour and put the fire out for us," she said.

"Vector managed to get inside the power box and they said it was probably because we had got water inside it, but I don't think that would ever happen."

The couple believe the fire was caused by a surge when Vector went to reconnect the power.

"There must have been a power surge because there was the same issue at the neighbours as well. Their power box has also failed," Sally said.


They were advised to ring their power board and an electrician.

Sally said they had put in an insurance claim and spoke to their electrician but, like many others, she was disappointed in Vector's response.

"I know they have been busy and are flat out, but we also tried several times to get hold of them on the weekend and couldn't get through.

Fallen trees and branches on the Lyttelton's property in Helensville. Photo / Supplied
Fallen trees and branches on the Lyttelton's property in Helensville. Photo / Supplied

"They sent us an alert yesterday afternoon saying our power had been resolved, when it hadn't, so I lodged a complaint and never got a response.

"I know they have had to work hard and the storm is not their fault, but they need better management of their app and better management of dealing with these big incidents."

Vector chief executive Simon Mackenzie today told the Herald their "customers updates" during the storm and after were "not up to the standard I'd like".

"The app just didn't cope with this event," says Mackenzie. "To be blunt."

The company also today said it had ruled out compensation for the thousands of Aucklanders who were left in the dark after Tuesday's storm.

A company spokeswoman said Vector is focusing on restoring as many customers as quickly as possible.

"However, Vector is not in a position to compensate for loss of electricity supply as a consequence of significant weather events like this (i.e. an act of God).

"We recommend customers check with their insurers to understand their coverage for any loss in the event of a significant weather event or natural disaster."

As of this morning between 500 and 1500 homes in Auckland still had no power, no hot water or both.