HUNDREDS of people suffered a fourth day without power yesterday as storms continued to batter Scotland – and forecasters warn of more severe weather to hit the country later this week.
Pensioner Sandra Barton died in a house fire in Lochend, Inverness-shire, after her home was apparently set alight by a burning candle used during a power cut.
Meanwhile, engineers continued to work around the clock in a bid to restore electricity to the last remote homes across the Highlands and Islands.
Yesterday afternoon around 500 customers were still without electricity as Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) worked in severe weather conditions to repair the damaged network.
So far they have restored power to 120,000 customers who were affected by the power cuts caused by high winds, sleet, snow, driving rain and lightning since Thursday evening.
The islands of Coll and Scalpay – where a handful of customers await reconnection – are proving extremely difficult to access as ferries, boats, aircraft and helicopters are unable to reach them due to the weather.
A spokesman for SHEPD said yesterday: “All of those customers have been spoken to, either directly by phone or face-to-face to ensure they have contingency arrangements that will provide them with heating and meals.
“Customers affected by the outages in the Highlands are being offered hotel accommodation and meals, with catering facilities located at various sites across the region, and the British Red Cross has been helping the electricity distributor provide hot food, drinks and blankets to vulnerable customers.”
A number of schools were also shut yesterday, with the roofs of primary schools in Brora and Canisbay damaged in the extreme weather.
Strathconon Primary is still waiting to be reconnected after being cut off last week and lack of heating has meant primary schools at Portree and Staffin on Skye are also still shut.
The Ministry of Defence radar base on St Kilda was evacuated yesterday because of the high winds, with 15 people airlifted off Britain’s remotest island, 41 miles west of the Uists.
Meanwhile, a shipping container crushed a car as it was blown 80ft by hurricane-force winds. A family on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides discovered the destruction.
The container had been strapped down but was blasted free by the 113mph winds that struck the islands. Billy Fraser, who lives in Seilebost on Harris, said: “We woke up in the morning and got up. I just opened the door and noticed the container wasn’t there. The container was sitting between two houses. The wind had broken one of the anchor straps and moved it about 20ft to the car. The car and container then moved about 80ft down the hill.”
He continued: “The container had stuff in it so it was about two and a half tonnes. The whole back end of the car is smashed.
“If both straps had broken at the same time it would have smashed into the house.”
Mr Fraser, his wife Sandra and their two-year-old son Rory were without power from Thursday to Saturday night after the destruction of their vehicle.